Dozens of conservative and free market groups sent a letter Monday to President Donald Trump, urging him to keep his campaign promise to withdraw the U.S. from an international agreement to fight global warming signed by the Obama administration.
Representatives from 40 right-leaning groups told Trump a withdrawal from the Paris climate change agreement “is a key part of your plan to protect U.S. energy producers and manufacturers from regulatory warfare not just for the next four years but also for decades to come.
Conservatives told Trump to send the Paris agreement to the Senate as a treaty — where it will surely be defeated, pull out of a parent United Nations climate change treaty or unilaterally withdraw from Paris on the four-year timeline specified in the agreement.
Failure to withdraw from the Paris agreement could jeopardize Trump’s agenda. Conservatives warned “[e]nvironmental pressure groups and several state attorneys general have begun to prepare lawsuits in federal court to block withdrawal of the ‘Clean Power’ Plan and other greenhouse gas rules.”
“One argument that they have already put forward is that these rules cannot be withdrawn because they are part of our international commitment under the Paris Climate Treaty,” reads the letter. “Failing to withdraw from Paris thus exposes key parts of your deregulatory energy agenda to unnecessary legal risk.
“The AGs revealed in a recruiting letter that they also plan other lawsuits ‘ensuring that the promises made in Paris become reality,’” reads the letter, which was spearheaded by the Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI) and the American Energy Alliance (AEA).
AEA supported Trump’s candidacy during the election, and Tom Pyle, the group’s president, headed Trump’s Energy Department transition team. CEI’s Myron Ebell headed Trump’s Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) transition team.
The letter comes as the White House debates whether or not to keep Trump’s campaign promise to withdraw from the Paris agreement, which President Barack Obama joined in 2016.
Obama never sent the agreement to the Senate as presidents usually do, but instead considered it an executive agreement that didn’t need congressional consent. The former president committed the U.S. to reduce greenhouse gas emissions 26 to 28 percent below 2005 levels by 2025.
The pro-Paris faction of the Trump administration, led by Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner, argue pulling out of the agreement would hurt the U.S. diplomatically and staying in it would have little blowback since it’s not legally binding.
Pro-Paris Trump and former Obama administration officials also argue the White House can weaken the emissions cuts the former president pledged to the UN. Some Republicans want Trump to remain in the agreement with a weakened pledge and more support for clean coal technology.
But anti-Paris Trump officials and conservatives say the language of the agreement doesn’t allow countries to weaken their pledge to cut emissions. Critics also charge environmentalists can block Trump’s deregulatory efforts.
Even one of the architects of the Paris agreement told E&E News Trump could not weaken the pledge Obama submitted, but she later changed her stance when pro-Paris environmentalists pressed her on Twitter.
“The treaty is based on the idea that from now on developed nations like the U.S. must live with less and pay more,” Pyle said in a statement. “That is not the American way.”
White House staff already met to discuss the issue, and Ivanka Trump will meet with Paris opponent EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt Tuesday morning to discuss the deal. Trump is expected to make a decision on Paris in the next week or so.
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