Letter to the Hon. Kate Brown, Governor of Oregon, the Hon. Jerry Brown, Governor of California, and the Hon. Jay Inslee, Governor of Washington - West Coast Members of Congress to Governors: "Our States Must Continue to Form a "Green Wall' and Maintain Climate Leadership"


Dear Governor Brown, Governor Brown, and Governor Inslee:

We applaud your leadership in combatting climate change and your contributions to the global effort to curb greenhouse gas emissions. As members of Congress representing states on the West Coast of the United States, we all know how much we have to lose if we are unable to address this threat, and it is vital to our constituents that we do everything we can to address it. If the Trump Administration decides to withdraw the United States from the Paris Agreement on climate change, we urge you to continue to uphold the core tenets and goals of this important international plan. We strongly disagree with President Trump's decision to abdicate America's leadership role, allowing other nations to lead on clean energy and job creation.

As you know, on December 12, 2015, the United States signed the Paris Agreement under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. Under President Obama's leadership, our nation joined the rest of the international community in taking a concrete step to address climate change. The agreement provided a blueprint to keep global temperatures from increasing above 2°Celcius, with a goal of limiting the increase to 1.5°Celcius, a level that would significantly reduce the risks and impacts of climate change. The Paris Agreement strengthened the ability of vulnerable countries to deal with the impacts of climate change, and aimed to make financing adequate to reducing greenhouse gas emissions and increasing climate resiliency.

The signing of this landmark agreement was the culmination of decades of diplomatic efforts, based on clear scientific consensus. It involved nearly every country in the world. Unfortunately, our current President has cast serious doubts on the veracity of the very basic underlying science of climate change, and has made it his goal to limit the United States' actions on climate change altogether. Any misguided action to force the United States to leave the Paris Agreement would undermine years of diplomatic work and threatens our nation's reputation and credibility with the rest of the world.

In our home states of California, Oregon, and Washington we could see catastrophic impacts from rising sea levels on our coastlines to delicate ecosystems torn apart by higher temperatures, changing streamflows, and increases in pests and disease. In fact, we are already seeing some of the effects of delayed action, with record droughts impacting our agriculture, forestry, and recreation industries and ocean acidification rippling through shellfish hatcheries across our coasts. President Trump either does not understand the seriousness of these impacts, or does not care.

California, Oregon, and Washington have made significant progress in addressing climate change. At the state level, California has led the way by implementing an aggressive state-wide carbon reduction goals by requiring a 40 percent reduction below 1990 levels by 2030, leading to the emergence of thousands of clean jobs that bolster the economy. In Oregon, the state recently revised its Renewable Energy Portfolio to require 50 percent of the state's electricity to come from renewable energy sources by 2040, which will substantially reduce greenhouse gas emissions from fossil fuel energy. In Washington state, the Clean Air Rule was implemented earlier this year, effectively putting a price on carbon dioxide.

All of these efforts have had a significant impact on reducing carbon pollution in the United States and bolstering our states economies. Given the vacuum in climate leadership that has resulted from the election of Donald Trump, our states must continue to form a "green wall" in the West that will maintain climate leadership in the United States. The Paris Agreement calls for significant reductions in greenhouse gas emissions, and if Donald Trump's administration won't lead, our states must. We call on you to continue to uphold our commitments made under the Paris Agreement, and to show international leadership where the current Administration has failed.

While President Trump continues to ignore reality, we are particularly grateful for your efforts. In order to send a signal to the international community, and to uphold our obligations to current and future generations, we encourage you to continue to aggressively address the threat of climate change and abide by this international effort.