The head of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Scott Pruitt, has called for America to “exit” the Paris Climate Agreement signed by Barack Obama last November.
In an interview with FOX and Friends, Pruitt said that “Paris [agreement] is something that we need to really look at closely. It’s something we need to exit in my opinion.”
“It’s a bad deal for America,” he continued. “It was an America second, third, or fourth kind of approach. China and India had no obligations under the agreement until 2030. We front-loaded all of our costs.”
Pruitt’s comments increase the likelihood the U.S. will pull out of the agreement, which requires governments to present national plans to reduce emissions to limit global temperature rise, as well as regularly report on their progress. Pruitt has previously referred to the agreement as a “bad deal,” but has never openly called for America to quit.
During his presidential campaign, Donald Trump was a prominent critic of the deal, promising to “cancel” it, and this week he refused to sign a statement endorsing the agreement. Although Trump could not instantly pull America out, he could initiate the process for the country’s exit.
Since taking office, Trump has revoked a range of environmental legislation—including Barack Obama’s climate orders—with a plan to focus on energy independence and revitalize the coal industry. In his first White House budget, Trump also proposed a 31 percent cut to the EPA’s overall budget.
However, reports in March suggested that members of Trump’s senior team were divided over pulling out of the deal, with Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and his own daughter Ivanka advising him not to pull the plug over concerns it would upset major allies.
On Thursday, Energy Secretary Rick Perry confirmed that his department is conducting a review of all energy policy, adding that it was “the right to do.”