Perry calls for US to remain in Paris accord, deepening climate split in White House

Dive Brief:

  • Secretary of Energy Rick Perry will not press for the United States to exit the Paris climate accord, he said at a Bloomberg New Energy Finance event yesterday, and instead would counsel President Trump to "renegotiate" the country's participation.
  • According to The Hill, Trump's inner circle is split on whether to stay in the United Nations climate pact; Scott Pruitt, administrator of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, and Senior Advisor Stephen Bannon both say the U.S. should not.
  • The 2015 agreement calls for keeping the impact of climate change below 2 degrees Celsius. For the United States, that would mean a roughly 80% economywide reduction in greenhouse gas emissions from 2005 levels. While on the campaign trail, Trump vowed to exit the deal.

Dive Insight:

Rick Perry made wide-ranging comments at the BNEF event yesterday, but his apparent support for remaining in the Paris accord was the big news.

Greentech Media has more, however, including details on the push to remove coal restrictions, approval of the Golden Pass liquefied natural gas export facility, and the state of the Department of Energy's research funding.

“I’m not going to say, I’m going to tell the President of the United States to walk away from the Paris accord," Perry said. "But what I’m going to say is we probably need to renegotiate it."

Perry toed a familiar line on the future of the U.S. power mix, saying the U.S. should embrace an all-of-the-above strategy and that the Trump administration would work to establish "balance" after pro-renewable energy policies of Obama. 

“No reasonable person can deny that the thumb and in some cases the whole hand has been put on the scale to favor certain political outcomes,” he said. “It is not reasonable to rely exclusively on fossil fuels. It is not feasible to rely exclusively on renewables. We’re working to find the right balance.”

Perry was critical of Germany, which has moved to shut down its nuclear plants after the 2011 Fukushima nuclear disaster in Japan. That has led the country to burn more coal, which has garnered criticism from some that European nations are not doing enough as part of the Paris agreement.

Secretary of State nominee and former Exxon CEO Rex Tillerson has also expressed support for the United States remaining a part of the Paris Climate accord to "maintain its seat at the table," as has Jared Kushner, an advisor and husband of Trump's daughter, Ivanka.  

While a decision has not been made, so far Trump has been working to roll back many Obama-era regulations and environmental rules. Last month he signed an executive order directing the EPA to review the Clean Power Plan and other greenhouse gas regulations for the power sector. 

Asked about energy research funding, Perry largely demurred, Greentech reported, though he expressed broad support for renewable energy.

Since the new administration took over in January, funding opportunities out of the U.S. Department of Energy have slowed significantly compared to the previous administration. Trump's proposed budget would cut DOE funding by about 6%, and would eliminate the Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy, an energy research incubator.

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Filed Under: Generation Solar & Renewables Regulation & Policy
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