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Morgantown considers resolution supporting goals of Paris climate agreement

By JIM ROSS

The State Journal

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — Morgantown City Council is scheduled to vote today on a resolution supporting and adopting the goals of the Paris Agreement on climate change.

Mayor Bill Kawecki says the resolution is the latest effort of a group that has helped the city reduce costs while pursuing green initiatives, but a spokesman for the West Virginia Coal Association calls it an affront to coal miners and others in the industry.

The resolution itself commits the city to three courses of action. One is to join more than 200 U.S. cities in the Climate Mayors network in adopting and supporting the goals of the Paris Agreement. The second is to commit to reducing greenhouse gas emissions through the implementation of a climate action plan.

The third is to explore the benefits and costs of adopting cost-effective policies and programs that promote the long-term goal of greenhouse gas emissions.

Kawecki said the resolution was brought forth by the Morgantown Municipal Green Team, an advisory group that helps guide public policy on energy and environmental matters.

The mayor said most of the comments he has received about the resolution have been favorable.

“We look at it as perhaps something to consider in what it can do in the long run for being advantageous economically for the city, as have some of the other activities that have been green,” Kawecki said.

Living under the goals of the Paris Agreement is the prudent thing to do, Kawecki said.

Chris Hamilton, executive vice president of the West Virginia Coal Association, sent an email Monday, July 31, criticizing the resolution.

“West Virginia overwhelmingly voted for Donald Trump for president last year, and a big part of that support was predicated on his commitment to help West Virginia’s coal industry recover from the devastating attack waged by regulation-happy Washington politicians during the last eight years and return to a position of economic strength,” Hamilton said in his email.

“We in the coal industry hope the Morgantown City Council realizes the Paris Climate Accord is bad for the economy. It is nothing more than a rabbit hole of economic devastation, and we hope Morgantown changes course before it’s too late,” he said.

Kawecki, though, does not see the resolution that way.

“It’s not anti-coal as far as the city is concerned,” he said. “I think it’s just a matter of being prudent. We certainly are sympathetic to the coal miners.”

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