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Rep. Tom O’Halleran: Money to fight climate change should be directed at U.S. first

FILE -- In this Sept. 6, 2016 file photo, an American flag flies over Capitol Hill in Washington. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh, File)

PHOENIX — In a discussion about President Donald Trump’s decision on the Paris climate agreement, Arizona Rep. Tom O’Halleran (D) called for “green policy,” but emphasized the importance of training our own workers.

O’Halleran joined KTAR News 92.3 FM‘s “Reality Check” with Darin Damme on Friday as the pair discussed President Trump’s recent announcement that the U.S. will withdraw from the Paris accord. The U.S. entered the landmark climate agreement under the Obama administration.

The representative of Arizona’s first district said he “wish(es) (Congress) would have had a little bit more time” to discuss the deal in Washington as a group. He also pointed out that the U.S. could have stopped complying with the deal, which is voluntary, without fully abandoning it. This is a claim supported by outlets like Forbes, for example, which wrote about it long before Trump had made the announcement.

“My biggest issue here is that this is not an issue that we have that is enforceable against us,” O’Halleran said. “Nobody’s going to be out there that can say ‘We’re going to sue you over this.'”

O’Halleran’s comments didn’t seem to lean particularly decisively in either direction on the political spectrum, as the Democrat acknowledged the existence of climate change but seemed to imply that the Paris agreement may not have been beneficial for America.

He was asked about the $3 billion per year that the U.S. pledged as part of the agreement.

“We need to direct (money) toward America first,” he said. “I would rather have our workers trained than someone else in another country. Our workers and our families are the people that we need to be concerned about. But the world climate issue is also an important issue and I think there’s recognition now, after years of debate, that most people believe that we do have an issue and we have to find a way to work on this together.

“But for America to be the only one writing the check all the time is probably not the appropriate way to do this.”

O’Halleran also didn’t expressly state that he was against renegotiating a deal or going a different direction on climate change, though he was critical of the fact that so many questions remain unanswered in the wake of leaving the Paris accord.

“What is that (Green) policy going to look like?” he asked. “What is that policy going to cost? When are we going to put a beginning date on that policy? How much are we going to incorporate a public-private partnership in doing this? There are a ton of questions that need to be resolved in this, and none of them have been resolved in that process.”

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