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LETTER: Questioning Rounds' climate claims

(metro creative)

To the Editor:

A recent column by Sen. Rounds (claiming that the Paris Climate Agreement is misguided) contained serious inaccuracies. He stated that: a) U.S. electricity rates must rise as a result of the switch to renewable energy; b) nations such as China, Russia and India have made no pledges to reduce emissions; c) the U.S. public opposes our participation in this agreement; d) the agreement would cause the loss of millions of U.S. jobs and huge financial losses to the U.S. economy by 2040; and e) if the U.S. were to achieve Paris goals, this would have no effect on climate change.

Here are the facts: a) widespread adoption of rooftop solar panels has been shown to have no significant impact on electricity rates when studied in states encouraging such measures; b) China and India were among the leaders at Paris. Like Russia and all other signatories, they have committed to large emissions reductions; c) by nationwide N.Y. Times/CBS 2015 polling, 2/3 of Americans favored U.S. commitment to the Paris accords; d) commitments made in Paris set goals to be achieved by 2025. The study quoted by Sen. Rounds excludes the financial benefits from these measures, and adds a speculative projection of costs by the year 2040 (not a part of U.S. Paris commitments); claimed loss of jobs must be reconciled with the fact that U.S. renewable energy industries employ five times as many workers as the coal and gas industries combined; and e) stating that U.S. compliance with these agreements would have no effect is nonsensical. All reductions of greenhouse gases result in less disruption of our climate.

The only political implication of climate change should be the requirement that elected officials act in our long term best interest. Well-funded corporate lobbyists have made successful efforts to persuade members of Congress that we must preserve our fossil-fuel based economy, based on distortions such as those listed above.

We ask Sen. Rounds to refrain from spreading disinformation, and to join the other congressional Republicans who have come to recognize climate change as an urgent, nonpartisan problem.

Don Kelley

Dakota Rural Action's Community Energy Development Committee