Trump ex­plores op­tions for exit from Paris pact

Pelosi: With­drawal from deal an ‘ab­di­ca­tion’ of lead­er­ship

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

Pres­i­dent Trump is lay­ing the ground­work this week to with­draw from the Paris cli­mate agree­ment, seek­ing op­tions for how to ex­tri­cate the U.S. in a process that could take years to com­plete.

De­tails of the with­drawal are still in the works, but the ef­fort is be­ing led by En­vi­ron­men­tal Pro­tec­tion Agency Ad­min­is­tra­tor Scott Pruitt, ac­cord­ing to Ax­ios, which first re­ported Wed­nes­day on the di­rec­tion the ad­min­is­tra­tion is lean­ing.

Sources told The Wash­ing­ton Times that Mr. Trump has made a fi­nal de­ci­sion, but the White House is still ex­plor­ing op­tions for how to ex­tri­cate the U.S. from the agree­ment signed by for­mer Pres­i­dent Barack Obama last year, and in­tended to be a cap­stone to his for­eign af­fairs legacy.

In­stead, it’s poised to be­come an­other Obama ex­ec­u­tive ac­tion un­wound by his suc­ces­sor.

On Wed­nes­day even­ing Mr. Trump took to Twit­ter to an­nounce the ex­act de­ci­sion time.

“I will be an­nounc­ing my de­ci­sion on Paris Ac­cord, Thurs­day at 3:00 P.M. The White House Rose Gar­den,” he wrote, be­fore re­peat­ing his cam­paign slo­gan in all cap­i­tal let­ters “Make Amer­ica Great Again!”

Democrats and en­vi­ron­men­tal groups blasted the pres­i­dent for even con­sid­er­ing with­draw­ing from the ac­cord, which would en­cour­age se­vere lim­its on the amount of green­house gas emis­sions from the U.S. over the next eight years as part of a broad in­ter­na­tional frame­work.

House Mi­nor­ity Leader Nancy Pelosi called with­drawal a “stun­ning ab­di­ca­tion of Amer­i­can lead­er­ship.”

“In walk­ing away from this agree­ment, the pres­i­dent is deny­ing sci­en­tific truths, re­mov­ing safe­guards that pro­tect our health and our en­vi­ron­ment, pro­tect­ing pol­luters and their dirty en­ergy agenda and threat­en­ing our na­tional and global se­cu­rity,” she said.

En­vi­ron­men­tal groups were even more heated, with the League of Con­ser­va­tion Vot­ers call­ing it “a new low” and a “wildly ir­re­spon­si­ble de­ci­sion,” say­ing it “pri­or­i­tized pol­luter prof­its over kids’ health.”

Yet at the same time they blasted Mr. Trump, en­vi­ron­men­tal­ists said Mr. Obama has al­ready locked the U.S. on the path to­ward lower emis­sions, and said pres­sure ei­ther from the mar­kets or from pub­lic re­la­tions will force Amer­i­can com­pa­nies to stay on track.

“With or with­out U.S. lead­er­ship, other coun­tries, busi­nesses, states, cities and cit­i­zens are con­tin­u­ing the un­stop­pable march to­ward the clean en­ergy econ­omy,” said Gene Karpin­ski, pres­i­dent of the LCV.

In the agree­ment, Mr. Obama pledged the U.S. to re­duce its green­house gas emis­sions in 2025 by 26 per­cent to 28 per­cent be­low the level they were at in 2005.

Mr. Trump, on the cam­paign trail last year, vowed to can­cel the agree­ment — yet once in of­fice he pulled back, say­ing he wanted to hear from all sides and re­think his de­ci­sion.

State Depart­ment of­fi­cials — many of them holdovers from the Obama era — fought to stay in the agree­ment, and were aided by new Sec­re­tary of State Rex W. Tiller­son and Mr. Trump’s own fam­ily, in­clud­ing daugh­ter Ivanka Trump and son-in-law Jared Kush­ner.

Lead­ing the with­drawal charge are Mr. Pruitt and top Trump ad­viser Stephen K. Ban­non. The White House’s top lawyer, Don­ald McGahn, also ended up tilt­ing against the agree­ment, ac­cord­ing to sources track­ing the de­bate.

Mr. Trump spent much of last week meet­ing with Euro­pean lead­ers, who pres­sured him to re­main in the deal. Pope Francis also added his voice to the pres­sure, even giv­ing the pres­i­dent a copy of the pa­pal en­cycli­cal urg­ing the world to bat­tle cli­mate change.

The deal’s de­fend­ers in the U.S. were search­ing des­per­ately for an op­tion short of with­drawal, fear­ful that an Amer­i­can opt-out would de­rail the global ac­cord. They said with­drawal will harm U.S. lead­er­ship on the is­sue, and won­dered whether Mr. Trump could in­stead ne­go­ti­ate an eas­ier emis­sions tar­get that would al­low the coun­try to re­main part of the ac­cord.

But the Obama State Depart­ment had ruled that op­tion out, say­ing the tar­gets in the deal were a min­i­mum and could only be ne­go­ti­ated up­ward.

Mr. Obama had de­clined to sub­mit the agree­ment to the Se­nate for rat­i­fi­ca­tion as a treaty, ar­gu­ing it was a pres­i­den­tial ac­cord that didn’t re­quire ap­proval. It would have likely been re­jected had he sub­mit­ted it, which would have been an em­bar­rass­ing defeat.

The for­mer pres­i­dent also failed to win pas­sage in Congress of a green­house gas con­trol scheme, forc­ing him to try to con­strain the U.S. econ­omy through ex­ec­u­tive branch reg­u­la­tions in­stead. Mr. Trump has al­ready be­gun to un­ravel those reg­u­la­tions, mak­ing it un­clear how the U.S. would achieve its Paris tar­gets even if it did re­main in the ac­cord.

Sen. Mike Lee, who ad­vo­cated for a full with­drawal from the cli­mate agree­ment, said that bind­ing the U.S. to an in­ter­na­tional agree­ment was a bad idea be­cause other coun­tries will not up­hold their end of the agree­ment.

“When the United States com­mits to some­thing, it abides by the rule of law. When other coun­tries do the same, it doesn’t nec­es­sar­ily have the same ef­fect,” the Utah Repub­li­can said on MSNBC.

“When we tie our­selves to an agree­ment in­ter­na­tion­ally, we know that other [par­ties] might not abide by their lim­its. When we our­selves tie them to it, we know that we will to ours. I’d hate to see us harm our own econ­omy by agree­ing to some­thing that other peo­ple, who we agree with, aren’t go­ing to fol­low.”

Sen. Richard Blu­men­thal dis­agreed and said pulling out will un­der­mine Amer­ica’s cred­i­bil­ity, and pre­dicted the U.S. would fall be­hind in job cre­ation in so­lar and other en­vi­ron­men­tal tech­nol­ogy.

“I think that our cred­i­bil­ity will be un­der­mined,” the Con­necti­cut Demo­crat said on CNN. “If other coun­tries lose con­fi­dence in our com­mit­ment to cli­mate change, they may cut back their com­mit­ment. They’re go­ing to fill the gap. China now is pro­duc­ing jobs and eco­nomic progress based on so­lar and wind in­vest­ments. Other coun­tries will in ef­fect cre­ate more jobs and sim­i­larly sur­pass us.”

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