On June 1 of this year, President Donald Trump announced that he was pulling the United States out of the Paris Climate Agreement.
The next day, Richmond Mayor Levar Stoney posted on Facebook that he stood with the Mayors National Climate Action Agenda, committing to cut CO2 emissions and support “binding federal and global-level policymaking.”
Two days later, Governor Terry McAuliffe denounced Trump’s action and committed Virginia to a group of states pledging to carry out the principles of the Paris accord.
The same day Attorney General Mark Herring joined 18 other attorneys general in dedicating themselves to support the principles of the Paris climate-change accord. In short order, they were joined by the mayors of Charlottesville, Roanoke and the Town of Blacksburg.
Some people began wondering how the anti-Trump forces mobilized so quickly, Matt Hardin, an attorney with the Alexandria-based Free Market Environmental Law Clinic, recounted today at the Tuesday Morning Club. Speaking before a confab of Virginia conservative and libertarian activists, he said he suspected that Charlottesville and Blacksburg politicians would be at the epicenter of the controversial actions.
But the responses to FOIA requests, Hardin says, indicates that the City of Los Angeles had taken the lead in recruiting Virginia mayors. The FOIA emails also revealed that Roanoke Mayor Sherman P. Lea, Sr., was in the thick of things. Whoever would have thought Roanoke as a center of the “resistance”?
If anyone is interested in perusing them, the FOIA responses for Charlottesville, Roanoke, Blacksburg and the attorney general’s office can be found on the Energy & Environmental Legal Institute website under the “‘We Are Still In’ Campaign” headline.
Hardin tried to make the case to the Tuesday Morning Group that the mayors’ resistance to Trump’s withdrawal from the Paris agreement might be illegal under Virginia law. Virginia is a Dillon Rule state, which means that local governments possess only those powers specifically delegated to them by the General Assembly — and joining international agreements is not one of them. Indeed, joining international agreements is a prerogative limited to the U.S. government. Virginia cities, said Hardin, are participating in United Nations initiatives and spending taxpayer money to do so.
By contrast, said Hardin, McAuliffe has not yet issued an executive order backing up his tough talk. Perhaps he recognizes the constitutional limits of his power, even if the mayors do not.
Bacon’s bottom line: Personally, I can’t get exercised about Trump yanking the U.S. out of the Paris agreement. Former President Obama never submitted the accord as a treaty to Congress, knowing that Congress would never approve it, and therefore it does not have the force of law. At the same time, I can’t get agitated about the Global Warming zealots either. Signing up to take part in a U.N. initiative is not the same as negotiating your own treaty.
The mayors are engaged in leftist virtue signaling, which might be annoying but, the last time I looked, was not illegal. If the mayors want to commit their jurisdictions to reduce their carbon footprints by 30%, that’s their business. They don’t need a Paris climate accord to do it. Frankly, there are a lot worse ways for mayors to spend their money. At least their cities will have lower energy bills at the end of the day. That’s more than you can say about a lot of things mayors spend their money on.There are currently no comments highlighted.