The White House has said the “war on coal” is over, but policy experts argue President Donald Trump’s legacy won’t be preserved unless the U.S. withdraws from the Paris climate agreement.
Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI) senior fellows Chris Horner and Marlo Lewis published a paper Wednesday arguing President Barack Obama joined the Paris agreement in 2016 by ignoring the U.S. Constitution to make his climate policies immune to legal challenges.
“President Obama didn’t honor his constitutional responsibility to get advice and consent of the Senate,” Lewis told The Daily Caller News Foundation.
Lewis said Obama should have submitted the Paris agreement to the Senate for approval. The Obama administration argued the Paris agreement did not need Senate approval because it was an extension of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, which was ratified in the 1990s.
Paris meets the Department of State’s criteria to be called a “treaty by virtue of its costs and risks, ambition compared to predecessor climate treaties, dependence on subsequent legislation by Congress, intent to affect state laws, U.S. historic practice with regard to multilateral environmental agreements,” reads Horner and Lewis’s report.
“The Agreement endangers America’s capacity for self-government,” reads the report. “It empowers one administration to make legislative commitments for decades to come, without congressional authorization, and regardless of the outcome of future elections.”
Obama didn’t seek congressional approval because he knew it would be “dead on arrival” in a Republican-controlled Senate openly hostile to the Paris agreement, Lewis said.
The Obama administration also argued the emissions targets for each Paris agreement signatory were voluntary, relying solely on domestic policies. Obama pledged to cut greenhouse gas emissions 26 to 28 percent by 2025.
But policies Obama put in place to comply with the Paris agreement only got the U.S. about 51 percent of the way there, meaning more legislation and regulations would be needed — another reason Lewis said Paris meets the definition of a treaty.
“This treaty is designed to expand every government’s control over private energy-related capital,” Lewis said, adding Obama wanted to use Paris to make his “domestic energy policies immune to legal challenges.”
“There is no way on Earth an executive can reorganize the economy for the next 35 years,” Lewis said.
Horner and Lewis’s paper comes as the Trump administration decides whether or not to stay in the Paris agreement, possibly by weakening Obama’s pledge to the UN.
President Donald Trump promised to “cancel” the Paris agreement while on the campaign trail, but his close advisers and cabinet members are split on whether or not to keep that promise.
White House chief strategist Steve Bannon and EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt support withdrawal from Paris. Ivanka Trump, her husband Jared Kushner, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and Energy Secretary Rick Perry support remaining in the Paris agreement.
Officials met Thursday to hash out an official position on Paris, and administration lawyers met Monday to discuss the legal implications of remaining in the Paris agreement at the request of Ivanka Trump.
Some Republican lawmakers have joined the fray, pushing for Trump to stay in the Paris agreement and use the diplomatic leverage to get international financing for clean coal technology.
Corporations from Starbucks to ExxonMobil to Cloud Peak Energy, a coal company, have all backed staying in the agreement — albeit all for different reasons.
Recent reports suggest Trump is leaning towards leaving Paris, but nothing is certain until the president officially takes a position sometime in May.
CEI wants Trump to ditch Paris, and the think tank has launched two ad campaigns urging the president to honor his campaign promise.
“If Trump wants to preserve his legacy, America can’t stay in an agreement that’s designed to bankrupt the fossil fuel industry,” Lewis said.
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