Paris cli­mate deal pro­posed as treaty — likely to die

The Washington Times Daily - - FRONT PAGE - BY STEPHEN DINAN

As Pres­i­dent Trump’s top ad­vis­ers pre­pare to hash out a fi­nal pol­icy on the Paris cli­mate agree­ment dumped onto their laps by Pres­i­dent Obama, an­other op­tion has hit the ta­ble: De­clare the deal a treaty and send it to the Se­nate to be killed.

The treaty op­tion could emerge as the mid­dle ground in the in­creas­ingly tense bat­tle be­tween “re­main­ers” on the one hand, who say the pres­i­dent should abide by Mr. Obama’s global warm­ing deal, and the Paris agree­ment’s de­trac­tors, who say Mr. Trump would be break­ing a key cam­paign prom­ise if he doesn’t with­draw from the pact.

Mr. Trump’s prin­ci­pal ad­vis­ers are slated to meet Thurs­day to hash out a fi­nal set of rec­om­men­da­tions for the pres­i­dent, with sev­eral dead­lines loom­ing next month.

At an ini­tial meet­ing of top staffers Tuesday, sev­eral memos and let­ters that were cir­cu­lated laid out the op­tions, in­clud­ing the treaty pro­posal put forth by Christo­pher C. Horner and Marlo Lewis Jr., senior fel­lows at the Com­pet­i­tive

En­ter­prise In­sti­tute.

Un­der their vision, Mr. Trump could toss out Mr. Obama’s de­ci­sion that the Paris ac­cord was an ex­ec­u­tive agree­ment, de­clare it a treaty and send it to the Se­nate, where it would need a two-thirds vote for rat­i­fi­ca­tion.

Given Repub­li­can con­trol of the cham­ber, the agree­ment’s op­po­nents say se­na­tors would either shelve the deal or out­right de­feat it. Either op­tion would de­rail the deal, the memo sug­gested.

“That op­tion af­firms that we are a na­tion of laws, not men and, im­por­tantly, dis­cour­ages both our ne­go­ti­at­ing part­ners and fu­ture U.S. of­fi­cials against at­tempt­ing to cir­cum­vent our sys­tem,” the memo says.

A brief­ing pa­per cir­cu­lated among Repub­li­can se­na­tors this week said the deal should have been sent to Capi­tol Hill by Mr. Obama, but he “knew that Congress would never ap­prove such a flawed deal, so he re­fused to seek the Se­nate’s ad­vice and con­sent.”

Sup­port­ers of the Paris ac­cord have their own memo drafted by lawyers in the State Depart­ment. That memo says that by send­ing the agree­ment to the Se­nate, the pres­i­dent would be giv­ing up important pow­ers and leave Mr. Trump and his suc­ces­sors open to con­gres­sional med­dling.

“Be­cause the large ma­jor­ity of in­ter­na­tional agree­ments con­cluded by the United States are con­cluded as ex­ec­u­tive agree­ments, this could have far-reach­ing im­pli­ca­tions for our con­duct of for­eign af­fairs,” the State Depart­ment doc­u­ment says.

The Paris agree­ment is the main in­ter­na­tional ve­hi­cle for try­ing to com­bat cli­mate change. Mr. Obama com­mit­ted the U.S. to the deal in 2015 but never sub­mit­ted it for rat­i­fi­ca­tion, say­ing it was an ex­ten­sion of a U.N. Frame­work Con­ven­tion on Cli­mate Change, which the Se­nate rat­i­fied in 1992.

The State Depart­ment memo says there are few risks to re­main­ing part of the Paris deal. It says the “le­gal obli­ga­tions are rel­a­tively few and are gen­er­ally process-ori­ented [and] dis­cre­tionary in their ap­pli­ca­tion or re­peat ex­ist­ing obli­ga­tions al­ready con­tained in the Frame­work Con­ven­tion.”

Michael McKenna, a Repub­li­can en­ergy strate­gist, said any­thing short of with­drawal would leave the U.S. open to le­gal chal­lenges, with judges po­ten­tially at­tempt­ing to en­force strict cli­mate lim­its based on the com­mit­ments.

“The pres­i­dent is be­ing asked to travel a path that leads him — ul­ti­mately — to con­tinue the Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion poli­cies on cli­mate change,” said Mr. McKenna, who has au­thored his own memo call­ing for with­drawal.

He blamed Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion “holdovers” at the State Depart­ment for try­ing to pre­serve their former boss’ plans.

Mr. Obama com­mit­ted the U.S. to cut­ting green­house gas emis­sions at least 26 per­cent be­low 2005 lev­els by 2025. The former pres­i­dent tried to en­force the com­mit­ment through a se­ries of ex­ec­u­tive and ad­min­is­tra­tion ac­tions, im­pos­ing tight lim­its on power plants and auto emis­sions.

Fed­eral courts have halted some of those plans, and Mr. Trump and Congress have nixed oth­ers, eas­ing the pres­sure on Amer­i­can in­dus­try. Dur­ing the cam­paign, Mr. Trump also pledged to can­cel the Paris deal.

As a de­ci­sion nears, the sides among Mr. Trump’s top ad­vis­ers have be­come clear.

En­ergy Sec­re­tary Rick Perry on Tuesday ap­peared to join the re­main­ers, though he said the deal should be rene­go­ti­ated.

“I’m not go­ing to tell the pres­i­dent of the United States to walk away from the Paris ac­cord,” Mr. Perry said at a con­fer­ence spon­sored by Bloomberg. “I will say that we need to rene­go­ti­ate it.”

Mr. Perry said other coun­tries are break­ing their self-im­posed com­mit­ments, giv­ing the U.S. an op­por­tu­nity to in­sist on changes.

Sec­re­tary of State Rex W. Tiller­son is a re­mainer, as are per­haps Mr. Trump’s clos­est ad­vis­ers, son-in­law Jared Kush­ner and daugh­ter Ivanka Trump. The White House gen­eral coun­sel’s of­fice also ap­pears to be lean­ing to­ward re­main, sources fa­mil­iar with the ne­go­ti­a­tions said.

En­vi­ron­men­tal Protection Agency chief Scott Pruitt is push­ing for with­drawal, and he is joined by U.N. Am­bas­sador Nikki R. Ha­ley, an­a­lysts said. Top pres­i­den­tial strate­gist Steve Ban­non is also a with­drawal ad­vo­cate.

Exxon Mo­bil Corp. has writ­ten a let­ter urg­ing the ad­min­is­tra­tion to stick with the Paris agree­ment, and the Na­tional Min­ing As­so­ci­a­tion said this week, af­ter its lead­ers met with Mr. Pruitt, that it will push for with­drawal, Politico re­ported.

The next test for the Paris ac­cord will be in the mid­dle of May, when fi­nance min­is­ters of the Group of Seven ma­jor economies meet in Italy. The heads of state meet at the end of the month.

The lead­ers are hop­ing for a com­mu­nique reaf­firm­ing the Paris agree­ment, while op­po­nents within the U.S. are hop­ing to pre­vent that, say­ing it would tie Mr. Trump’s hands go­ing for­ward.


Pres­i­dent Obama hailed the Paris agree­ment on cli­mate change as a his­toric achieve­ment, but then left it to Pres­i­dent Trump, who op­poses the deal.

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