The top official at the Trump administration Environmental Protection Agency on Friday pushed back against mainstream media reporters working to characterize the president’s decision to withdraw from the Paris climate accord as a weakening of U.S. leadership.
EPA chief Scott Pruitt said environmental advocates criticizing Trump’s decision are missing a huge point: The Paris agreement provides only marginal benefit to global environmental well-being while punishing American businesses.
“All the discussions we had, through the last several weeks have been focused on one singular issue: Is Paris good for our country?” Pruitt said. “That’s the discussions I’ve had with the president. That’s been my focus. The focus remained on whether Paris put us at a disadvantage. And it did. It put us at an economic disadvantage. You may not know this, but Paris set targets at 28 and 26 percent. It was a failed deal. Even if all targets were made, it only reduced the temperature by less than two-tenths of one degree.”
Many reporters asked the EPA chief whether Americans should be concerned about international reaction to the president’s decision. Pruitt said that if the previous administration were attempting to enact a binding treaty, it should have been ratified by Congress.
Many world champions of the deal, he added, were more concerned about the economic limitations it placed on American businesses than environmental issues.
He said: “The world applauded when we joined Paris. And you know why? I think they applauded because they knew it would put this country at a disadvantage. The European leaders, why they want us to stay in, they know it will continue to shackle our economy, though we are leading the world with respect to our CO2 production.”
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