Donald Trump's Thursday withdrawal from the Paris climate agreement drew strong reactions along party lines among North Dakota's and Minnesota's members of Congress, as well an accusation that Rep. Kevin Cramer, R-N.D., was "flip-flopping" his stance on the agreement.
The accords, which were joined by nearly every country in the world during President Barack Obama's administration, are designed to ease carbon emissions. Scientific consensus holds that rising global temperatures are man-made and that curbing greenhouse gas emissions would help head off higher sea levels and a slew of other climate-related problems, like droughts and food shortages.
Cramer is no fan of the agreement as it was written and worries about its economic effects in the U.S. But in a May 7 op-ed in the Wall Street Journal, he urged Trump to remain in the agreement. He said China could "fill the leadership vacuum" that the U.S. would leave behind, pointing out the agreement is nonbinding and thus the American carbon-emission goals could be lowered without a departure.
But on Thursday, after Trump's announcement that the U.S. would withdraw from the agreement, Cramer released a statement that acknowledged his and the president's stances, arguing "it's clear (Trump) thoughtfully weighed all his options."
"The Paris climate agreement, in current form, would be terrible for America, and I'm glad we have a president who values Americans more than the interests of the rest of the world."
The North Dakota Democratic-NPL quickly released a statement condemning Cramer's "flip-flopping," claiming he "goes wherever the political winds blow."
"Kevin Cramer's first and only job is to do what's best for North Dakota and the country," Robert Haider, the state party's executive director, said in the statement. "Instead, he's focused on saving face and covering his political flank when the president refuses to listen to his advice. He can't have it both ways."
Cramer was unable to be reached for comment on Friday.
North Dakota's U.S. senators were split on the president's actions. Sen. John Hoeven, R-N.D., called the accords "not fair for America," arguing they required the U.S. to cut carbon emissions-which he said is already happening-"but does not require the same from countries like China, Russia and India."
But Sen. Heidi Heitkamp, D-N.D., said the advantages of staying in the agreement outweigh any benefits of leaving it.
"The United States can't remain an energy leader if we aren't even at the negotiating table," she said in a statement. "No agreement is perfect, and adjusting our commitments or timetable would have been viable avenues. ... But abandoning this agreement altogether is a reckless decision that forfeits an opportunity to guarantee a viable future for North Dakota coal, oil and natural gas."
Across the Red River, Minnesota's U.S. senators were united in condemning Trump's move. Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., pointed out Syria and Nicaragua are the only two other countries that are not part of the climate change deal, calling Trump's withdrawal the "wrong decision" both environmentally and militarily.
"As military and security experts have reminded us, climate change is a threat to our national security, increasing risks of conflict, humanitarian crises and damage to critical infrastructure," Klobuchar said in a statement. "We need to keep building on the progress we've made to combat climate change and boost clean energy, not roll it back."
Sen. Al Franken, D-Minn., offered even stronger words, calling Trump's withdrawal a "catastrophic mistake" that he asked the president to reverse.
"The Paris climate agreement brought together virtually the entire world-195 countries-to recognize the basic fact that climate change is a real, man-made, existential threat to the planet that demands broad international action. We don't have time to turn our backs on the rest of the world and bury our heads in the sand. We must address climate change now."
The office of Rep. Collin Peterson, D-Minn., who represents most of western Minnesota, did not respond to a request for comment.