Con­ser­va­tives, mod­er­ates split on Paris ac­cord

Two sides press Trump

The Washington Times Daily - - FRONT PAGE - BY BEN WOLF­GANG

Con­ser­va­tives on Tues­day launched an all-out as­sault on the Paris cli­mate ac­cord, pres­sur­ing Pres­i­dent Trump to brush aside mod­er­ate voices in the White House — in­clud­ing son-in-law Jared Kush­ner — and keep his cam­paign prom­ise to pull the U.S. out of the deal.

With the pres­i­dent in Wis­con­sin, top ad­min­is­tra­tion of­fi­cials were set to meet Tues­day and de­bate whether to re­main a part of the agree­ment, which was signed in late 2015 and rep­re­sents one of for­mer Pres­i­dent Barack Obama’s big­gest in­ter­na­tional


But that meet­ing was abruptly can­celed amid re­ports of deep dis­agree­ment within the ad­min­is­tra­tion over how to pro­ceed, with chief strate­gist Steve Ban­non and oth­ers fa­vor­ing with­drawal and Mr. Kush­ner and other mod­er­ate voices re­port­edly urg­ing the pres­i­dent to honor the deal.

Out­side pres­sure from in­flu­en­tial con­ser­va­tives reached a boil­ing point Tues­day as groups such as the Com­pet­i­tive En­ter­prise In­sti­tute launched a pub­lic re­la­tions cam­paign re­mind­ing vot­ers of Mr. Trump’s cam­paign prom­ise to scrap Paris.

White House spokes­woman Sarah San­ders de­nied that any of those fac­tors played a role in the can­cel­la­tion.

“They wanted to have that con­ver­sa­tion. Since they haven’t had it, I don’t think they could say that there’s a lot of dis­cord be­tween where ev­ery­one is,” she said while trav­el­ing aboard Air Force One and brush­ing aside wide­spread re­ports of in­fight­ing. “That’s the pur­pose of the meet­ing. And so it was, again, sched­ul­ing con­flicts for today.”

Ms. San­ders sidestepped ques­tions about which way the pres­i­dent was lean­ing on Paris.

Through­out his cam­paign, Mr. Trump re­peat­edly said he would pull the U.S. out of the agree­ment if he be­came pres­i­dent, though he soft­ened that stance al­most im­me­di­ately af­ter he was elected in Novem­ber.

On Tues­day, CEI started a pe­ti­tion drive calling on the pres­i­dent to keep his cam­paign com­mit­ment. The group also posted a video fea­tur­ing Mr. Trump on the cam­paign trail de­cry­ing the ac­cords.

“Pres­i­dent Trump should keep his prom­ise to with­draw from the Paris Cli­mate Treaty. The Paris treaty is a key part of Pres­i­dent Obama’s war on Amer­ica’s most af­ford­able and abun­dant en­ergy — coal, oil, and nat­u­ral gas,” the in­sti­tute says in a brief mes­sage ac­com­pa­ny­ing the pe­ti­tion. “But the Wash­ing­ton Swamp and the United Na­tions es­tab­lish­ment are fight­ing hard to change Pres­i­dent Trump’s mind. These are not the peo­ple who voted to change the di­rec­tion of the coun­try.”

Other con­ser­va­tives are tak­ing di­rect aim at Mr. Kush­ner, warn­ing of po­lit­i­cal con­se­quences if Mr. Trump aban­dons his cam­paign prom­ise.

“For his part, Mr. Kush­ner must know that an ob­vi­ously bro­ken cam­paign pledge will im­pair the Pres­i­dent’s abil­ity to be re­elected,” Michael McKenna, a Repub­li­can strate­gist who worked on the Trump tran­si­tion team, wrote in a memo that laid out the rea­sons for with­drawal.

“He prob­a­bly also knows (or will know) that there is no mech­a­nism — ab­sent with­drawal — that al­lows the sort of re­work­ing the agree­ment that some in the ad­min­is­tra­tion have sug­gested is pos­si­ble,” Mr. McKenna added.

In­deed, the agree­ment as con­structed doesn’t seem to al­low the U.S. to lower its emis­sions goals and main­tain its seat at the in­ter­na­tional ta­ble, as Sec­re­tary of State Rex W. Tiller­son and oth­ers have sug­gested.

The deal, which is not a for­mal treaty and car­ries no non­com­pli­ance penal­ties what­so­ever, calls on the U.S. to cut its green­house gas emis­sions by at least 26 per­cent by 2025 — a mas­sive re­duc­tion that would re­quire dra­matic changes in do­mes­tic Amer­i­can en­ergy pol­icy.

China, the world’s largest pol­luter, has to do noth­ing un­til 2030, when it says it will reach peak emis­sions and then be­gin re­duc­tions. There are signs, how­ever, that China al­ready is be­gin­ning to curb its emis­sions.

While Mr. Trump ap­par­ently is still open to re­main­ing in the agree­ment, his ad­min­is­tra­tion is tak­ing steps that would make it vir­tu­ally im­pos­si­ble to meet the emis­sions tar­gets. For ex­am­ple, he has in­structed the En­vi­ron­men­tal Pro­tec­tion Agency to elim­i­nate the Clean Power Plan, a set of na­tional lim­its on car­bon pol­lu­tion from power plants that is cen­tral to meet­ing the broader emis­sions goals.

More broadly, Mr. Trump has made clear that he wants to ramp up U.S. oil, gas and coal pro­duc­tion and end the Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion’s fa­voritism to­ward re­new­able en­ergy. Those pol­icy pri­or­i­ties make the Paris pledge lit­tle more than words on a page, even if the na­tion for­mally re­mains a part of the deal.

Even the pres­i­dent’s EPA ad­min­is­tra­tor openly fa­vors with­drawal.

“Paris was just a bad deal, in my es­ti­ma­tion,” EPA chief Scott Pruitt said last month.

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