- The Washington Times - Thursday, May 25, 2017

Republican senators on Thursday morning warned President Trump that remaining in the landmark Paris climate pact will essentially guarantee that a host of Obama-era environmental regulations remain on the books for good.

In a letter to the president, the lawmakers urged Mr. Trump to withdraw from the deal, which calls on the U.S. to cut its greenhouse gas emissions by at least 26 percent by 2025. Mr. Trump, who vowed during his campaign to withdraw from the accord, has said he’ll make a decision after he returns home from the G-7 summit in Italy.

While some administration officials — including Secretary of State Rex W. Tillerson — want the U.S. to remain a part of the agreement, GOP senators argue that doing so could lead to the preservation of former President Barack Obama’s regulatory agenda, including the Clean Power Plan, the first set of national limits on carbon emissions from power plants.

“Because of existing provisions within the Clean Air Act and others embedded in the Paris Agreement, remaining in it would subject the United States to significant litigation risk that could upend your administration’s ability to fulfill its goal of rescinding the Clean Power Plan. Accordingly, we strongly encourage you to make a clean break from the Paris Agreement,” wrote the group of senators, which includes Sen. Jim Inhofe, Oklahoma Republican, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and others.

From a legal perspective, the fear is that if the U.S. remains in the Paris pact, federal courts could stop the Trump administration from undoing the Clean Power Plan and other environmental regulations. Such rules would form the foundation of U.S. efforts to meet its emissions pledge under Paris, and removing those rules would make any American climate commitment little more than words on a page.

In other words, meeting the emissions reduction target is virtually impossible without the Clean Power Plan and other federal rules.

“It is clear that those advocating for greenhouse gas regulations will use the Paris Agreement as a legal defense against your actions to rescind the Clean Power Plan if you decide to remain in the Paris Agreement. This is why it is so important for you to make a clean exit from the Agreement,” the Republican senators wrote.

On Wednesday, a group of 40 Democratic senators wrote their own letter to the president, urging him to remain a part of the deal.

A final decision could come as soon as next week.

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

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