Thursday, May 18, 2017


During the late, lamented campaign of 2016, when brave talk was in season, Donald Trump promised faithfully that once he was president he would take the United States out of the infamous Paris climate accord, an international agreement signed and promoted by Barack Obama that locks the United States into all kinds of anti-competitive things “to combat global climate change.”

It’s a promise that he could easily keep, but he hasn’t done it. This promise is important to a lot of people, the coal miners in Kentucky and West Virginia, unemployed factory workers in Michigan, Wisconsin, and Pennsylvania who took him at his word. His word was the only hope these people had for a better life. Redeeming that hope is tied directly to the nation’s ability to bring about a renaissance in U.S. manufacturing.

But in assembling his administration, he invited into his inner circle a pro-carbon tax clique that is willing to sound alarms — “the end is near!” — to get the policies they want, particularly a broad-based tax on the consumption of fossil fuels.

These new “insiders” are joined by stalwarts of the Grand Old Party (emphasis on “old”) in the foreign policy community, including former Secretaries of State George P. Shultz and James A. Baker. They want the pernicious accord to move forward despite the president’s promises and are capable of marshalling a lot of firepower in support of what they want. Why be concerned about promises made to a West Virginia coal miner or an out-of-work machine-tool operator in Pennsylvania?

Some people closest to President Trump are telling him he needs to be cautious, to keep his options open at least until he returns from the upcoming G-7 summit of industrialized nations, the first he will attend as president. Cautious is a more pleasant way to describe “doing nothing,” but the president is said to be listening.

Going to the G-7 summit before taking the United States out of the Paris accord leaves him open to lobbying by other world leaders who are fully on board with the scaremongering. They’ll work him over with both fright and flattery, and the president is likely to be more susceptible than usual to flattery just now; they’ll give him all kinds of reasons why he should listen to them, and not to the men and women who put him where he is today.

As long as the United States remains a signatory of the Paris accord, superliberal state attorneys general like Eric Schneiderman of New York will use the Paris accord to block the deregulatory agenda drawn up by Scott Pruitt, the new administrator of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Mr. Schneiderman has been trying to co-ordinate an effort, so far unsuccessful, to enlist other states to join him in bringing “Big Tobacco”-like law suits against Exxon Mobil.

The president has rolled back a considerable portion of Barack Obama’s agenda, just like he said he would. But he still has miles to go and promises to keep, and extracting America from the destructive Paris accord is one of the most important of those promises.

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