- The Washington Times - Thursday, April 27, 2017

A group of Republican lawmakers on Thursday urged President Trump to keep the U.S. in the landmark Paris climate agreement but to rework America’s commitment so that it “does no harm to the economy.”

In a letter to the president, the lawmakers, led by Rep. Kevin Cramer, North Dakota Republican, argue that emissions targets agreed to by the Obama administration — a 26 percent reduction in greenhouse gas pollution by 2025 — will hamper economic growth and kill jobs.

But they also contend that remaining in the deal and using it as a tool to promote American interests would be more beneficial than pulling out entirely, as many conservatives, including some powerful figures inside the White House, want to do.

“The U.S. should present a new pledge that does no harm to our economy. Unlike President Obama’s opaque process to determine his pledge, the determination should be transparent, reflect a range of economic scenarios, and take in adequate input from the private sector and other interested parties,” the letter reads in part. “We should showcase the energy security, consumer, and emission benefits produced by the shale revolution and emphasize the importance of caseload power generation, including highly efficient and low emission coal-fired and nuclear power plants, to grid reliability.”

Top White House officials are expected to meet Thursday to debate whether to remain in the Paris deal or withdraw. In his campaign, Mr. Trump repeatedly promised to exit the agreement.

But there’s a deep split in the administration over how to proceed.

SEE ALSO: Paris climate accord eyed as treaty

White House adviser Steve Bannon, EPA Administratior Scott Pruitt and other officials favor a full and immediate withdrawal. Others, including White House adviser and Mr. Trump’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner, argue the U.S. should remain a party to the agreement.

Energy Secretary Rick Perry this week also publicly stated he believes the U.S. should renegotiate its commitment, not walk away from the deal entirely.

The nine GOP lawmakers who signed Thursday’s letter are taking a similar position and say the U.S. could benefit from the Paris agreement.

“The U.S. should use its seat at the Paris table to defend and promote our commercial interests, including our manufacturing and fossil fuel sectors,” they wrote in the letter. “Our engagement must prevent the development of harmful policies which undermine economic growth and energy security here and abroad.”

• Ben Wolfgang can be reached at bwolfgang@washingtontimes.com.

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