Politics & Government

The climate-change pact is more popular than Trump – and the senators who oppose it

President Donald Trump waves as he takes a walking tour during the G-7 Summit, Friday, May 26, 2017, in Taormina, Italy.
President Donald Trump waves as he takes a walking tour during the G-7 Summit, Friday, May 26, 2017, in Taormina, Italy. AP

The Paris climate change agreement is more popular than not only President Donald Trump but also the 21 Republican senators who’ve pushed him to withdraw from it.

A majority of Americans in every state support the U.S. remaining part of the 2015 treaty, according to the Yale Program on Climate Change Communication, including fossil-fuel-producing states that Trump won by wide margins last November.

Trump tweeted Wednesday morning that he’d announce “over the next few days” whether he will withdraw the United States from the Paris Agreement, which was signed by former President Barack Obama. Last week, 21 Senate Republicans urged Trump in a letter to make a “clean exit” from the treaty.

The most recent Gallup poll, taken May 21-28, put Trump’s approval rating at 41 percent. In contrast, a May 4-9 Quinnipiac University poll found that 65 percent of Americans said Trump should not remove “specific regulations intended to combat climate change.”

In addition to being more popular than Trump, the Paris Agreement also has higher favorability than the Republican senators who called on him to scrap it.

President Donald Trump signed a sweeping executive order changing most of President Barack Obama’s climate change policies, on Tuesday. “My administration is putting an end to the war on coal,” Trump said.

According to the Yale survey, conducted jointly in November with Virginia’s George Mason University, 56 percent of Kentuckians supported U.S. participation in the Paris Agreement.

That’s well above the 44 percent of state residents who approved of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s job performance, according to an April Morning Consult survey of Senate approval ratings. McConnell, R-Ky., signed the letter to Trump.

Kentucky once ranked as the nation’s leading coal producer and still held the No. 3 spot in 2015, but last year it slipped to fifth place amid a glut of cheap natural gas produced by hydraulic fracturing, cheaper renewable power and a nationwide decline in the use of coal to generate electricity.

The Senate’s No. 2 Republican, Sen. John Cornyn of Texas, also signed the letter to Trump. While 64 percent of Texans supported the treaty, according to the Yale-George Mason survey, 49 percent approved of Cornyn’s job performance, the Morning Consult survey found.

Though a heavy producer of oil and natural gas and a large consumer of coal to generate electricity, Texas ranks first in the nation in wind power potential. Wind accounted for nearly 23 percent of the state’s electricity production in the first quarter of 2017, according to the Electric Reliability Council of Texas, the state’s power grid operator.

Kansas ranks second in wind power potential, and wind generates nearly 30 percent of the state’s electricity, the American Wind Energy Association found.

Kansas Republican Sen. Pat Roberts signed the letter to Trump opposing the Paris Agreement, despite the 63 percent of Kansans who supported the pact. Roberts had a 47 percent April approval rating.

Among the states where Republican senators opposed the Paris accord, nowhere was the agreement more popular than in Idaho, where 69 percent of those surveyed approved. Yet the state’s senators, Republicans Mike Crapo and Jim Risch, aren’t viewed quite as favorably, with approval ratings of 58 percent and 51 percent, respectively, in April.

Other states with a mismatch between the popularity of the Paris Agreement and Republican senators who opposed it:

▪ Missouri, where Sen. Roy Blunt’s 47 percent approval rating contrasts with a 61 percent approval for the Paris accord.

▪ Mississippi, where Sens. Roger Wicker and Thad Cochran have 52 percent and 57 percent approvals, respectively, while the Paris treaty has 60 percent approval.

▪ North Carolina, where Sen. Thom Tillis’ 39 percent approval contrasts sharply with the Paris agreement’s 65 percent.

▪ South Carolina, where Sen. Tim Scott is relatively popular at 59 percent, but still not more than the climate change pact, at 63 percent.

▪ Georgia, where Sen. David Perdue’s 55 percent approval is several points behind the Paris Agreement’s 63 percent.

The coastal states of North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia and Mississippi could be vulnerable to sea-level rise due to climate change.

Curtis Tate: 202-383-6018, @tatecurtis

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