President Trump’s top environment official called for an “exit” from the historic Paris agreement Thursday, the first time such a high-ranking administration official has so explicitly disavowed the agreement endorsed by nearly 200 countries to fight climate change.
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt, left, shakes hands with coal miners during a visit to Consol Pennsylvania Coal Company’s Harvey Mine in Sycamore, Pa., on April 13. (Gene J. Puskar/AP)
Speaking with “Fox & Friends,” Pruitt commented, “Paris is something that we need to really look at closely. It’s something we need to exit in my opinion.”
“It’s a bad deal for America,” Pruitt continued. “It was an America second, third, or fourth kind of approach. China and India had no obligations under the agreement until 2030. We front-loaded all of our costs.”
Pruitt had called the Paris accord a “bad deal” in the past but does not appear to have previously gone so far as to call for the United States to withdraw.
The Trump administration has previously said it is currently reviewing its position on climate change and energy policy and remains noncommittal, for now, on whether it will follow through on the president’s campaign pledge to “cancel” the 2015 Paris climate agreement.
“You might’ve read in the media that there was much discussion about U.S. energy policy and the fact that we’re undergoing a review of many of those policies,” Energy Secretary Rick Perry said in Texas on Thursday, according to prepared remarks. “It’s true, we are and it’s the right thing to do.”
Amid this uncertainty, the statement aligns Pruitt with a more hard-line approach held by some in the Trump administration, rather than the more moderate take of Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, who had said in his confirmation hearing that the U.S. should have a “seat at the table” in the Paris negotiations.
Tillerson’s former company, the oil giant ExxonMobil, has also supported the Paris accord, and in late March wrote a letter to the White House reiterating its view that “the United States is well positioned to compete within the framework of the Paris agreement, with abundant low-carbon resources such as natural gas, and innovative private industries, including the oil, gas, and petrochemical sectors.”