Chamber official: Businesses will flee climate deal

Chamber official: Businesses will flee climate deal
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A Chamber of Commerce official is warning lawmakers that the Paris climate deal might force businesses to leave the U.S.

Stephen Eule, vice president for climate and technology for the Chamber’s Institute for 21st Century Energy told lawmakers at a House Science Committee hearing Tuesday that the deal could result in higher energy prices.

“The United States has an energy price advantage. We pay two to four times less than many of our competitors in the OECD,” said Eule. “If that competitive advantage goes away, we could see many companies leave the country.”

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President Obama has touted the international climate deal struck last year in Paris as one of his signature achievements. But Republicans have taken aim at the deal, arguing that it won't be effective in curbing emissions from other nations and will only hurt American businesses.

“It’s a bad deal for the American economy, American people and would produce no substantive environmental benefits,” Chairman Lamar Smith (R-Texas) said Tuesday at the committee hearing.

The top Democrat on the panel, though, Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-Texas) downplayed criticism of the deal and accused opponents of ignoring climate science.

"The reality is the audience for those views is shrinking as the reality of climate change becomes evident,” she said.

During his testimony, Eule pointed to Europe where he said officials were also concerned about the effect of climate regulations on businesses.

“All you have to do is look at what’s going on in Europe,” he told lawmakers. “Five years ago in Europe, it was all focused on climate change. Now, they are still focused on climate change, but they are talking about competitiveness.

"I think we’re headed down the same path if we aren’t careful,” he added.

Andrew Steer, president of the World Resources Institute, a non-partisan research organization, who also attended the hearing, countered Eule's concerns.

"[There's an] overwhelming sense in part of business leadership that we actually have to do something about climate change and doing it smartly will make us more efficient and more competitive,” Steer said.

Steer said U.S. businesses would be less competitive "if we do not act" against climate change.