President Donald Trump's decision to pull the US out of the 2015 Paris agreement on climate already appears to be galvanizing support for stricter regulations on the fossil fuel sector at the local and state level.
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Rather than a gift to the industry, the US departure from the worldwide pact could result in new limits on fracking, methane emissions from oil and gas operations, and new statewide fuel economy standards, analysts said.
"Subnational policies -- and especially those of populous, economically vibrant states like California and New York -- move into the foreground as US federal regulations move into the background," said Kevin Book, managing director at ClearView Energy Partners. "Trump's withdrawal from the nonbinding Paris Agreement could ultimately accelerate binding policies from national and subnational governments."
The agreement, which is within the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, aims to curb global greenhouse gas emissions and prevent a further increase in the global average temperature and calls on countries to make Intended Nationally Determined Contributions for how they will curb carbon emissions.
Under its INDC, the US had said it intended to achieve an economy-wide target of reducing its greenhouse gas emission by 26%-28% below its 2005 level in 2025, through a combination of efforts.
These included stricter fuel economy standards for cars and heavy duty vehicles, cuts to carbon pollution from new and existing power plants, and limits on methane emissions from the oil and natural gas sector.
Trump and congressional Republicans were already moving to undo many of these efforts, but Trump said he was pulling the US from the deal since the economic toll on the US was too high.
"I was elected to represent the citizens of Pittsburgh, not Paris," Trump said in a speech Thursday from the White House.
However, Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto, a Democrat, was a vocal critic of Trump's exit from the accord and said municipal governments will now focus efforts on combating the consequences of climate change.
"It's now up to cities to lead," Peduto wrote on Twitter shortly after Trump's announcement.
In a statement Thursday, former President Barack Obama said he was "confident that our states, cities, and businesses will step up and do even more to lead the way, and help protect for future generations the one planet we've got."
On Thursday, the governors of New York, California and Washington state announced the formation of a coalition of state governments committed to "upholding" the Paris accord and taking "aggressive action" on climate change.
"If [Trump] is going to be AWOL in this profoundly important human endeavor, then California and other states will step up," California Governor Jerry Brown said.
California produced about 480,000 b/d of oil in February, behind only Texas, North Dakota and Alaska in the US ranks of oil production, according to the US Energy Information Administration.
But the state is widely viewed as leading the national charge limiting fossil fuel production and curbing climate-harming emissions.
In November, Monterey County approved a ban on fracking and the expansion of oil operations, the seventh California county to approve such a ban, but the first oil-producing county to do so.
California regulators are fighting expected efforts by the Trump administration to weaken fuel economy standards and, potentially, revoke a decades-old waiver allowing the state to set its standard at stricter levels than the federal government.
In addition, lawmakers are pushing efforts to bolster renewable energy and developing climate accords of their own with foreign governments.
But the effectiveness of this fight at the state and local level will likely be confined to California, according to Kathleen Sgamma, president of the Western Energy Alliance, an oil and gas trade group.
"Other than California, most oil and natural gas producing states aren't willing to jeopardize their own economy and send jobs to other states," Sgamma said. "Governors will realize that going it alone to achieve even less than the 0.02 degrees of avoided warming that American participation in the Paris agreement would have delivered is a cost not worth the benefit."
--Brian Scheid, email@example.com
--Edited by Annie Siebert, firstname.lastname@example.org