President Donald Trump made it official Thursday: He will remove the United States from the Paris agreement on climate change.
“The United States will withdraw from the Paris climate accord,” he said, adding he was ready to “begin negotiation to re-enter the Paris accord or an entirely new transaction that is fair to the United States.”
“If we can, great. If we can’t, that’s fine,” he said.
The decision follows months of debate within Trump’s inner circle, as the new president was forced to choose between upholding a campaign promise to repeal the agreement and pressure from all sectors of corporate America, including oil giants Exxon Mobil and Chevron, to remain in the pact.
In his speech from the White House Rose Garden Thursday, Trump described the Paris deal as “draconian” for American economic interests.
“China can do whatever they want for 13 years. Not us,” he said. “We would find it very hard to compete with other countries from other parts of the world.”
Trump’s decision is expected to win great applause from the conservative Republicans who propelled him to victory in November’s election.
Bill Stevens, chief lobbyist of the Texas Alliance of Energy Producers, an oil and gas trade group, said climate change regulations threatened to impose huge costs on oil an gas drillers around the country.
Climate change was “a non-issue for them, and they’d as soon be out of Paris,” he said earlier this week. “They’ve been struggling for the last two to three years with oil prices, trying not to go into bankruptcy.”
The economy over environment argument continues to hold strong with many Republicans.
Speaking on CNN Thursday, Sen. Rand Paul, R-Kentucky, questioned scientific models showing dramatic increases in global temperatures over the next century.
“Modelling is not an exact science,” he said. “We shouldn’t be so alarmist to give up all these American jobs.”