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The Journal Gazette

Thursday, April 20, 2017 1:00 am

Trump's stance on climate pact unknown

Washington Post

WASHINGTON – Top Trump officials are feuding over whether the U.S. should stay in the historic Paris climate agreement.

The president, who promised to “cancel” Paris during the election campaign, has faced calls from oil, gas and even some coal companies for the United States to remain a party to an accord endorsed by nearly 200 countries. But many conservatives and climate change doubters have continued to urge President Donal Trump to keep his election pledge and quit the agreement.

The White House has suggested that Trump would make his decision about the fate of the Paris agreement by late May, when G7 leaders are expected to gather in Taormina, Italy. But a decision could also emerge from a meeting of his top advisers that was postponed Tuesday and could take place as early as next week, according to Republican lobbyists.

The meeting was charged with offering recommendations to Trump, the White House said. But spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders said Tuesday that while the advisers “wanted to have that conversation,” it had been put off due to “scheduling conflicts,” including several top officials traveling with the president to Wisconsin.

Those officials are themselves divided.

The Environmental Protection Agency administrator, Scott Pruitt, said last week he believed the U.S. should “exit” the deal, which is seen as a key part of Obama's legacy. Trump's chief strategist Stephen Bannon is also viewed as an opponent of the agreement.

However, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson argued in his Senate confirmation hearing that the U.S. should maintain a “seat at the table” in international climate talks. Others, including National Economic Council head Gary Cohn, who held a White House meeting about a possible carbon tax, and Ivanka Trump and her husband, Jared Kushner, are also considered supportive of the deal.

At a minimum, said one GOP consultant close to the White House, Trump is likely to cut off contributions President Barack Obama was making to the Green Climate Fund under the international accord, a key mechanism by which wealthier developed companies are intended to help developing nations adjust to climate change and adopt clean energy technologies to cut their emissions.

Continued international uncertainty about the Trump administration's stand has been a source of friction at international summits. At the Group of Seven energy ministerial last week, the United States would not endorse a statement about climate change because the Trump administration has still not laid out a formal policy position.