National Journal on Possible Trump Submission of Paris Climate Treaty to Senate
Brian Dabbs @BRIANDABBS
Dec. 22, 2020, 8 p.m.
Speaking at a virtual G-20 summit last month, President Trump championed his decision to bow out of the Paris climate accord.
“I withdrew the United States from the unfair and one-sided Paris climate accord, a very unfair act for the United States,” Trump told leaders of the globe’s biggest economies, all of whom are currently party to the pact.
“It was designed to kill the American economy,” he said.
Only months after taking office in 2017, Trump, accompanied by then-Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt, launched the Paris withdrawal process to conservative fanfare in the White House Rose Garden. According to the terms of the pact, the U.S. formalized that withdrawal a day after Americans wrapped up voting in the 2020 electoral cycle.
But now conservative critics of the accord, both on and off Capitol Hill, want more from Trump in the waning weeks of his presidency…
The push for Trump to submit the ratification documents is sparking a messaging war over whether it would actually have any legal bearing on Biden’s engagement with the pact. Paris supporters say the move wouldn’t carry legal weight, but conservative attorneys argue it would hamstring Biden’s justification for regulatory measures at the EPA and other agencies designed to pare down greenhouse-gas emissions.
“Transmitting Paris as the treaty it is thoroughly neuters any of the certain 2021 claims that Paris is the reason for EPA to do anything, or for any ruling that we are compelled to undertake any particular action or inaction,” said Chris Horner, a longtime Washington D.C. attorney and current board member at Government Accountability & Oversight, a nonprofit conservative law firm.
“Any claim that Paris compels U.S. action or inaction would now confront doubt that a U.S. commitment to Paris was anything but a political commitment,” Horner said. “The commitment will not be ‘settled’ but inarguably ambiguous and obviously weakened. It is a political question, and transmittal severely undermines adventurous courts or commissions from the desired and otherwise certain rulings grounded in that Paris commitment.”
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