President Donald Trump’s senior officials will gather next week to finally hash out internal disagreements about whether the U.S. should stay in the Paris climate deal, White House officials told Politico Friday.
Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, EPA administrator Scott Pruitt, Energy Secretary Rick Perry, senior adviser Jared Kushner, and Trump’s chief strategist Steve Bannon are among those expected to participate in the meeting, which is tentatively scheduled for next Tuesday. Sources told Politico the the names of the participants and time of the meeting are still in flux.
The much-talked about climate deal requires the U.S. to dramatically reduce greenhouse gasses. Former President Barack Obama signed the deal last year without the Senate’s consent. The agreement has become a contentious point within the Trump administration.
Bannon and Pruitt represent the side most opposed to the agreement, while Tillerson and Kushner have staked out more conciliatory positions. The secretary of state believes the deal could be an effective diplomatic tool.
Pruitt, a Republican who sued the EPA more than a dozen times as Oklahoma’s attorney general, has made no bones about his antipathy for the deal, telling reporters last week the Obama-era deal is a “bad deal for this country.”
Pruitt is primarily worried the deal could toss a wrench in his push to repeal Obama’s climate change regulations for power plants, reported Politico.
Other White House officials, meanwhile, argue the agreement is not legally binding and will not hurt Pruitt’s effort to undo Obama’s so-called Clean Power Plan, which requires the U.S. to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions by more than 28 percent over the next 10 years.
The CPP predates the Paris deal and was not legally based on any international commitment.
Coal companies have come out of the woodwork in support of the deal. They are willing to adhere to the deal so long as Trump can negotiate for lower emissions goals and subsidies for clean coal.
Cloud Peak became the first major coal company on April 6 to officially come out in favor of staying in the Paris agreement. Recent reports, however, suggest at least two other coal majors — Peabody Energy and Arch Coal — have also signaled to the White House a preference for staying pat on the deal.
Trump has been mum on the deal since becoming president, but he made dismantling the beleaguered agreement a central part of his campaign message during the 2016 presidential election.
The president is expected to render a final decision on the deal by late May when he and other world leaders will travel to Italy for a G-7 summit. More than 200 countries have singed the Paris agreement.
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