Hogan Holds Back on Joining Virginia, Other States in Climate Alliance

Governor Larry Hogan has so far declined to bring Maryland into a newly formed alliance of states opposed to President Donald J. Trump’s decision to pull the United States out of the Paris climate accord.

The Baltimore Sun reports,

A dozen states have joined the newly formed U.S. Climate Alliance of states committed to staying on the path to fight climate change the United States pledged to follow under President Barack Obama. Most are led by Democrats such as Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe, who joined the alliance Monday.

Hogan has not ruled out joining. Spokeswoman Amelia Chasse said Monday that the administration is “still learning about the initiative.” She also said Maryland’s air quality goals already surpass those set by the Paris accord.

The climate alliance was launched last week by three Democratic governors — Jerry Brown of California, Andrew Cuomo of New York and Jay Inslee of Washington.

Last week, Charlie Baker of Massachusetts and Phil Scott of Vermont became the first Republicans to align their states with the group.

ike Hogan, Baker and Scott are Republicans who refused to support Trump in his 2016 general election campaign against Democrat Hillary Clinton. But since the election, Baker and Scott have been outspoken critics of Trump policies while Hogan has steered a more cautious course.

Other states that have joined the alliance are Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Minnesota, Oregon, and Rhode Island. Puerto Rico is also a member, and Mayor Muriel Bowser of Washington has also pledged to uphold the terms of the Paris accord.

Hogan has come under pressure from environmental advocates to join the alliance. Mike Tidwell, executive director of the Chesapeake Climate Action Network, said Maryland voters “are overwhelmingly supportive of the Paris Climate Agreement that Trump rejected last week.”

“For Governor Hogan, it is imperative that Maryland join other states in rejecting Trump’s appalling vision of burning more and more coal and fracked gas in a warming world,” Tidwell said in a statement.

At least one of Hogan’s potential Democratic challengers took McAuliffe’s decision as an opportunity to tweak Hogan for hesitating to join.

Baltimore County Executive Kevin Kamenetz posted a statement on Twitter hailing Virginia’s move.

“Glad to see our neighbors in Virginia join the U.S. Climate Alliance. @LarryHogan must defend Maryland’s environment! #Act on Climate,” Kamenetz tweeted.

U.S. Rep. John K. Delaney, another potential challenger, tweeted that it was “unbelievable that Maryland isn’t doing the same.”

After Trump announced his decision, a Hogan spokesman offered a measured dissent.

“This is not an action the governor would have taken,” spokesman Doug Mayer said.

Since then, Hogan aides have avoided harsher criticism of Trump while emphasizing the governor’s record on the environment. Chasse pointed to his signing of the 2016 Greenhouse Gas Reduction Act and his support this year for measures to reduce emissions by promoting electric cars and incentives for using renewable energy.

The spokeswoman said the greenhouse gas bill includes “some of the most aggressive air quality goals in the country — significantly more aggressive than those in the Paris accord.”

Chasse also pointed out that Maryland is already a member of a multi-state, regional compact, the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, which Maryland joined in 2007 under Democratic Gov. Martin O’Malley.

“Governor Hogan remains committed to preserving Maryland’s natural resources for future generations, and Maryland will continue to lead by example,” Chasse said.

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