U.S. ‘Needs to Exit’ Paris Climate Pact, EPA Chief Says

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By Dean Scott

The U.S. “needs to exit” the Paris climate pact, EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt said April 13, siding with those in the Trump administration who want complete withdrawal from the 2015 agreement reached among nearly 200 nations.

“Well, Paris is something we need to really look at closely, because it’s something we need to exit in my opinion,” Pruitt said during an interview on Fox & Friends, calling the pact a “bad deal” for the U.S.

The EPA head’s comments come amid continued signs of an internal struggle in the administration over whether President Donald Trump should, as he vowed during the campaign, withdraw the U.S. from the accord.

Pruitt skirted questions on what the U.S. should do with the Paris deal in the run-up to his Senate confirmation in February. In written responses to Democratic senators in January he repeatedly stressed it was not his decision to make and that the fate of the Paris Agreement rested with the State Department.

“Should the Administration decide to continue to participate” in the deal, Pruitt wrote, “I will collaborate with all involved agencies to ensure that commitments made on behalf of the United States are achievable and consistent with requisite legal authorities delegated by Congress.”

Trump has yet to decide whether the U.S. will stay in the Paris Agreement. But Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Nikki Haley are among those who have called for Trump to stay at the table in international climate talks.

‘Frontloaded’ U.S. Requirements?

Pruitt in March questioned whether humans are a “primary contributor” to rising global temperatures and suggested there is still “tremendous disagreement” over to what extent climate change is manmade.

In his April 13 remarks on Fox & Friends, the EPA administrator also said the climate pact, the first to include actions from developed and developing nations alike, “was a bad deal for America” because it “frontloaded” U.S. actions to cut its emissions while giving China and India until 2030 to act.

“China and India had no obligations under the agreement until 2030, we frontloaded all of our costs,” Pruitt said. The EPA head also suggested the U.S. has made more progress than China and India—or even the European Union—in cutting its emissions over the last two decades.

Staying in the Paris pact would mean “contracting our economy to serve and really satisfy Europe and China and India. They are polluting far more than we are,” Pruitt said, noting that U.S. emissions have been cut to levels not seen since the early 1990s.

Since 1990, Only Slight U.S. Progress

It’s true the U.S. emissions have been declining in recent years even as emissions in India and China increase; the U.S. for example cut its emissions 5 percent between 2010 and 2015, according to the EPA.

But since 1990, the EU has made far deeper cuts than the U.S.

EU emissions declined 24.4 percent between 1990 and 2014, according to the European Environment Agency. By contrast, U.S. emissions in 2015 are actually slightly higher than they were in 1990, according to the EPA’s greenhouse gas inventory released in February.

“Since 1990, U.S. emissions have increased at an average annual rate of 0.2 percent,” according to the EPA report.

Ahead of the Paris deal, the U.S. pledged to cut its greenhouse gas emissions 26 percent to 28 percent by 2025 from 2005 levels. But Trump’s recent rollback of various climate policies—including the centerpiece of its Paris pledge, the EPA’s power plant carbon pollution limits—has raised doubts about whether the U.S. can meet that pledge.

To contact the reporter on this story: Dean Scott in Washington at DScott@bna.com

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Larry Pearl at lpearl@bna.com

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