How the US coal industry is reacting to the Paris Climate Accord withdrawal

Trump announced Thursday the U.S. would withdraw from the Paris Accord.

ByABC News
June 2, 2017, 4:39 PM

— -- While the global reaction to President Donald Trump's decision to withdraw from the Paris Climate Agreement was largely critical, at least one energy industry important to Trump celebrated his decision to break from the accord -- the coal industry.

Four of the five largest coal producer companies in the United States supported Trump's move, citing their belief that remaining in the Paris Agreement would have impacted the U.S. economy negatively.

"We believe that abiding by the accord, without significant changes, would have substantially impacted the U.S. economy, increased electricity costs and required the power sector to rely on less diverse and more intermittent energy," Peabody Energy Corp, the largest coal producer in the United States, said in a statement.

"Peabody continues to advocate for greater use of technology to meet the world’s need for energy security, economic growth and energy solutions through high-efficiency low-emissions coal-fueled power plants and research and development funding for carbon capture.”

The second biggest coal producer in the U.S., Arch Coal, said the president is a "tremendous advocate for coal and its essential role in America’s future energy mix, and we support the decision to withdraw from the Paris Agreement."

"Looking ahead, we know that he will be looking to ensure a strong American economy, a competitive U.S. manufacturing sector, a reliable and resilient power grid, and a vibrant U.S. steel industry, while at the same time ensuring a clean and sustainable environment," Arch Coal said in a statement.

Cloud Peak Energy, based in Wyoming, argued that the Obama administration's pledge as part of the Paris Accord to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 26 percent to 28 percent below 2005 levels by 2025 were in "need of major amendment."

“The Obama administration’s unilaterally imposed CO2 emissions reductions under the Paris Agreement, adopted without congressional approval, were in need of major amendment. Cloud Peak Energy supported action to undo the economic harm they would have caused. Leaving the agreement is one way to do so," Rick Curtsinger, a spokesman for Cloud Peak Energy, said in a statement provided to ABC News.

Curtsinger continued, "We urge the administration to play a much-needed leadership role, both globally and at home, to change the failed climate policy paradigm of the past, in which the choice was between Climate or Prosperity, to one based on Climate AND Prosperity."

The Ohio company Murray Energy Corporation said in a statement that its employees, management and ownership are "extremely pleased" with Trump's decision.

"We applaud President Trump’s steadfast leadership, and his delivery on this important campaign commitment," CEO and chairman Robert E. Murray said in a statement.

"Murray Energy has always supported complete withdrawal from the Paris Climate Accord...," Murray continued. "In following through on his promise, President Trump is supporting America’s uncompromising values, saving coal jobs, and promoting low-cost, reliable electricity for Americans and the rest of the World."

ABC News also reached out to Alpha National Resources, the fifth top-five coal producing company, but did not immediately hear back.

Trump's decision to take the U.S. out of Paris Climate Agreement was in part to fulfill one of his campaign promises to the coal mining industry.

"We’re going to cancel the Paris Climate Agreement..." and "we’re going to save the coal industry," Trump promised during the 2016 Williston Basin Petroleum Conference in Bismarck, North Dakota.

According to the most recent report from the U.S. Energy Information Administration, U.S. coal production in 2015 dropped over 10 percent and the average number of coal mine employees dropped by 12 percent, the lowest on record since the agency started collecting data in 1978.

"I happen to love the coal miners," Trump said from the Rose Garden Thursday announcing his decision.

Big oil companies like Shell and ExxonMobil, however, supported the U.S. remaining in the global climate agreement.

“Our support for the #ParisAgreement is well known. We will continue to do our part providing more & cleaner energy," Shell Oil Company tweeted shortly after Trump's announcement Thursday.

Meanwhile, the CEO of ExxonMobil sent a letter to Trump’s special assistant for international energy and the environment a week ago arguing the Paris climate deal is “an effective framework for addressing the risks of climate change."

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