Energy

EPA Chief Calls Paris Agreement ‘A Bad Deal’ Amid Internal White House Struggle

Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Scott Pruitt weighed in on an issue the Trump administration has been silent on since taking the reins of government in January.

Pruitt said the Paris climate agreement was “a bad deal” that should have been treated by the Obama administration as a treaty, instead of an executive agreement.

“I happen to think the Paris accord, the Paris treaty, or the Paris Agreement, if you will, should have been treated as a treaty, should have gone through senate confirmation,” Pruitt told CNBC’s “Squawk Box” Thursday morning. “That’s a concern.”

Pruitt’s comments, first reported by Reuters, is the first time a top Trump administration official has weighed in on the agreement since January. Most reporters, however, focused on Pruitt’s remarks that carbon dioxide is not a “primary contributor to the global warming that we see.”

One former EPA transition team member was pleased with Pruitt’s remarks. Chris Horner, a senior fellow at the Energy & Environment Legal Institute and the Competitive Enterprise Institute, has long been a critic of the Paris agreement.

Pruitt’s remarks come amid reports of an internal struggle over whether or not to stay in the United Nations global warming pact, which President Barack Obama made the U.S. party to in 2016 without Senate consent.

One one side, Ivanka Trump, White House adviser Jared Kushner and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson are urging Trump to stay in the Paris agreement, sources told Politico and The New York Times.

Such reports came on the heels of news Kushner and Ivanka “intervened to strike language about the climate deal from an earlier draft of the executive order” on the EPA’s climate regulations, The Wall Street Journal reported.

Ivanka and her husband Kushner “have been considered a moderating influence on the White House’s position on climate change and environmental issues,” WSJ reported.

White House adviser Steve Bannon opposes staying in the Paris pact, according to reports. Bannon wants to exit the deal, fulfilling a major promise President Donald Trump made on the campaign trail.

“We’re going to cancel the Paris Climate Agreement and stop all payments of U.S. tax dollars to U.N. global warming programs,” Trump said in a May campaign speech.

But the order Ivanka and Kushner reportedly “intervened” to change the language of would have reflected Pruitt’s statements on the issue — the Paris agreement is a treaty that should have gone before the Senate.

The Obama administration called the Paris pact an executive agreement to avoid bringing it before the Senate. The U.S. Constitution requires the Senate approve of treaties, but says nothing on agreements between different administrations.

Nearly 200 nations signed onto the the U.N. agreement in Paris in 2015. The agreement went into effect in November. Obama unilaterally committed to cut U.S. emissions 26 to 28 percent by 2025.

But meeting Obama’s Paris pledge hinges on his “Climate Action Plan” being in place and even expanded. Trump’s promised to do the opposite.

“President Trump is committed to eliminating harmful and unnecessary policies such as the Climate Action Plan and the Waters of the U.S. rule,” reads Whitehouse.gov.

Trump already ordered EPA to rescind and review its “waters of the U.S.” rule that was locked up in litigation with 32 states and dozens of business and property rights groups.

The president is expected to issue an executive order next week to rescind the EPA’s Clean Power Plan — the key policy Obama developed to meet his Paris pledge.

Paris critics have argued there’s no point in staying in the Paris agreement if the U.S. has no intention of meeting its pledge and cutting funding for UN climate programs.

That could hurt U.S. diplomacy and open up the Trump administration to lawsuits from environmentalists seeking to use the courts to impose climate policies.

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