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Many firms pursuing CO2 reduction despite withdrawal from Paris accord

| Thursday, June 1, 2017, 11:00 p.m.

Officials with FirstEnergy, one of America's largest public corporations and the owner of the Bruce Mansfield Power Station in Shippingport, Beaver County, say they're not concerned about President Trump's decision to withdraw the United States from the Paris climate accord.

“It doesn't affect us. Our company has already reduced greenhouse gas emissions over 40 percent below 2005 levels,” said Stephanie Walton, a FirstEnergy spokeswoman. “We only expect CO2 emissions to continue to decline.”

First Energy is not alone.

Twenty-five major U.S. corporations pursuing their own CO2 reduction plans urged Trump to stick with the agreement in a full-page ad in Washington D.C. newspapers Thursday morning, before the president's announcement.

Trump said he plans to begin negotiations to re-enter the Paris accord or make another deal.

Some corporations in Pittsburgh said they plan to continue their initiatives to slow climate change and take corporate responsibility despite Trump's claims that the accord is bad for American business.

Mark Deasy, a Mine Safety Appliances spokesman, said that MSA does not have a large carbon footprint as its work does not cause pollutants. However, he noted the importance of an agreement that recognizes climate change.

“A clean environment is in the interest of all of us and is something we would all be in favor of,” Deasy said.

Although many view the decision to withdraw from the Paris accord as detrimental to efforts to combat climate change, companies acknowledged that the problem does not have to be controlled at the federal level.

Zachary Barber, of the nonprofit PennEnvironment, said many citizens are concerned with climate change and the impact of their carbon footprint.

“The desire to provide kids and coming generations with clean water and food and air is driving more people to be aware of the environment and the climate,” Barber said. “I think we're going to see cities and states step up and fill the gap here.”

Emma Curtis is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach her at 412-320-7822, ecurtis@tribweb.com or via Twitter @EmmaCurtisPGH.

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