President Trump has been working to get the United States out of the Paris climate agreement, citing that it isn’t good for the country. Now, a mysterious legal memo is cited in a lawsuit that shows former President Barack Obama may have actually entered into the agreement illegally.
A lawsuit filed on Monday shows that Barack Obama entered into the Paris climate agreement illegally with a legal memo that the Obama administration used to justify the deal. The lawsuit identifies that the Obama administration fought that it could sign the agreement without the approval of the Senate because of not saying “legally binding targets and timetables.” According to the lawsuit, this kind of justification is a misrepresentation of the law.
Chris Horner is a senior fellow working at the Competitive Enterprise Institute who explains that the memo demonstrates how the Obama administration entered into the Paris treaty unlawfully. In a press statement, he explains how the memo is both a major political as well as a legal scandal.
The lawsuit is currently requesting documents associated with the memo from the US State Department as part of a Freedom of Information Act request.
Horner, who sits on the Government Accountability & Oversight (GAO) board of directors, is responsible for filing the lawsuit on behalf of Energy Policy Advocates. The legal memo is cited as allegedly justifying the decision that Obama made to enter the climate deal. This deal compels the United States and 200 other countries to cut greenhouse gas emissions dramatically by 2025. Specifically, it identifies cutting emissions by 26% to 28%.
Any international deal involving adopting targets and timetables requires Senate approval, not simply those that are legally binding. Horner refers to a referendum that the Senate produced in 1992 following the Kyoto Protocol which was an international climate agreement that was designed to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. However, the United States never ratified Kyoto.
In 2017, Pres. Donald Trump identified his intention for the United States to leave the agreement. Throughout his 2016 campaign, he promised to cancel the deal. However, his administration has been split on the issue. He has already issued a number of executive orders to roll back Obama-arrow global warming regulations.
Trump now has the ability to pull out of the deal officially on Monday. The terms of the deal stipulate that a partnering country cannot withdraw during the first three years of submission. However, Trump has the ability to send a letter to the United Nations on Monday to announce his intention. It would not become official until one day following the 2020 election.
During the early part of Trump’s campaign, he identified that the Obama administration negotiated the Paris agreement poorly by not putting the needs of American workers first. He believed that China and other member countries were benefiting from the funding provided by the United States, becoming the financing arm of the deal.
China is one of the many countries that signed the deal. They are also the largest greenhouse gas emitter in the world. They made no commitment to cut greenhouse emissions when signing the deal whereas the United States promised to cut by 26% to 28%. The communist nation only identified that it would reach “peak emissions” by 2030. While they have taken steps to close down coal mines and shut down some of the coal-fired power plants, it is not identified as to how dramatically they have been able to cut greenhouse emissions. Beijing also became the first city in China to replace all coal power with natural gas.
Gina McCarthy, the former administrator for the Environmental Protection Agency under the Obama administration has not responded for comment. McCarthy was involved with crafting environmental policies in order to bring the United States into compliance with the Paris deal.
The Democrats are quick to criticize what Trump has done. He has done what he felt is necessary to protect the United States. He has followed the constitutional rules outlined, however, going through the House and Senate as necessary. Obama, however, clearly went around the Senate whenever he could because he knew that he would not get the sign-off.
Entering the Paris deal was a mistake from the beginning. While it can be advantageous to cut greenhouse emissions, the United States should not be the financing arm. Each country should be working to cut greenhouse emissions of their own accord without depending on the US to finance it. While the Dems can turn this around to say that Trump doesn’t want to help the climate, the reality is that he’s doing it in a legal way that makes better sense for the United States.