Park City ‘dumbfounded’ by President Trump’s climate move | ParkRecord.com

Park City ‘dumbfounded’ by President Trump’s climate move

Mayor maintains City Hall will continue to press a green agenda

by Jay Hamburger
THE PARK RECORD

The mayor of Park City on Thursday expressed disappointment in President Trump's decision to withdraw the U.S. from the Paris climate accord, saying the move was not based on science and was "irresponsible."

Mayor Jack Thomas said in an interview the president's decision essentially disregarded the scientific evidence of climate change. He said it was a decision the president based on his own political agenda "rather than based on the health and welfare of the citizens in this country."

"I'm not completely surprised given what the president has said in the past. I'm hugely, hugely disappointed," the mayor said. "It's really inconsistent with the logic and science of this very delicate atmosphere that we all live within."

He added that "atmosphere doesn't recognize borders."

The move by the president was made as Park City continues to press environmentalism and the wider issue of sustainability as key priorities for City Hall. Park City's leadership adheres to the ideal that a changing climate could someday broadly threaten the community. There is concern that a warming planet could eventually threaten the ski industry that drives the Park City economy by leading to winter rain instead of snow, particularly at the lower elevations of the community. There is also worry climate change could lead to devastating wildfires in the Park City area.

"I'm dumbfounded by the decision to do this," Thomas said.

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City Hall's environmental efforts cover numerous policies and programs meant to reduce emissions. The municipal buses run on cleaner-burning fuels, there are solar installations atop some public facilities and there are numerous environmental upgrades to municipal buildings, as examples.

The environmental programs began in earnest more than a decade ago under the administration of former Mayor Dana Williams and continued during the Thomas administration. There has been widespread community support for City Hall's environmental program, and the municipal efforts are seen as influencing individuals and businesses in Park City to pursue green upgrades to their properties.

Park City has a goal of by 2022 cutting to zero the carbon emissions attributed to the municipal government. Another City Hall goal calls for cutting carbon emissions to zero communitywide by 2032. The net-zero figures would be accomplished by reducing the use of emissions-reducing energies as well as offsets of some sort for any emissions that remain.

"It doesn't change our goal. If anything, it activates us a little more," Thomas said, adding that local governments will continue to take action. "I think there's a groundswell of support for the Paris accord and making change."

City Hall and Park City environmental activists have closely followed the late-2015 Paris climate accord, which involved 197 countries and is meant to combat climate change. At least one activist from Park City headed to Paris for the conference, and City Hall created a flier touting the municipal government's environmental efforts to be distributed there. The flier said Park City could make an impact on the efforts against climate change and lead the way for other resort communities.

The decision about the Paris accord was made in the months after the mayor signed a letter to Trump, then the president-elect, as a part of his involvement in a group known as the Mayors National Climate Action Agenda. The letter outlined the projected impact of a warming planet, noting extreme weather, air pollution and harmful effects on the economy. The letter said the mayors were prepared to move forward even without support from the federal government. The mayor said he continues to support the points in the letter.

"This does not diminish our passion or work we have to do in this community. We'll continue," Thomas said on Thursday.