Raimondo, Baker join US Climate Alliance

WPRI-TV/AP Photo

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — Rhode Island Gov. Gina Raimondo and Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker have both joined a new coalition of states responding to President Trump’s decision to pull out of the Paris Climate Agreement.

The United States Climate Alliance was formed Thursday night by the governors of New York, California and Washington State. Democratic Governor Raimondo and Republican Governor Baker joined Friday, along with Connecticut Gov. Dan Malloy, a Democrat, and Vermont Gov. Phil Scott, a Republican.

The coalition says its aim is to uphold the principles of the Paris Climate Agreement, even if the federal government will not.

“My position is that we’re going to still lead here in Rhode Island. Climate change is real, we’re going to meet the challenge,” Raimondo told Eyewitness News on Friday.

Raimondo has previously announced a plan for Rhode Island to have 1,000 megawatts of clean energy by 2020, which would represent 10 times more clean energy than the state had in 2016. She has also said she wants to double the amount of clean energy jobs by that date.

Rhode Island recently received national attention when it became home to the first offshore wind farm in the United States.

“America ought to be the leader,” Raimondo said. “We should be leading the way in the world on issues like climate change. And if Washington won’t do that, then we’re going to lead the way right here in Rhode Island.”

While opposition to Trump’s decision to pull out of the 200-country deal was swift and widespread, some supporters of his action said the deal was unfair, and leaving it would not stop the country from achieving climate goals.

“Withdrawal from the Paris Accord doesn’t mean we as a country will not still invest our time in climate concerns, it just means we will do it at our pace,” said state Rep. Bobby Nardolillo, a Coventry Republican. “Do not be fooled by scare tactics from extreme activists in response to the President’s decision.”

Nardolillo is running for U.S. Senate against Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse in 2018.

Whitehouse, a second-term Democrat who has prioritized climate change during his time in Congress, lambasted Trump’s decision. “Trump is betraying the country, in the service of Breitbart fake news, the shameless fossil fuel industry, and the Koch brothers’ climate denial operation,” he said in a statement.

Cranston Mayor Allan Fung, the last Republican nominee for Rhode Island governor who is considering a rematch against Raimondo in 2018, will be forging ahead with efforts to thwart climate change, according to spokesman Mark Schieldrop.

“The president’s decision won’t change Cranston’s efforts to address climate impacts, protect the environment and promote sustainability,” Schieldrop said. He said the city will be kicking off new participation in a solar program next week.