Former WH adviser: Trump will want to rejoin Paris climate pact by 2020

Former WH adviser: Trump will want to rejoin Paris climate pact by 2020
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The White House has been considering a plan to rejoin the Paris climate agreement by 2020, a former top White House adviser on international energy and environment issues told E&E news Tuesday.

George David Banks, who left the White House last week after reportedly learning that he would not be granted a permanent security clearance because of past marijuana use, said that while working with the administration, he had a plan in place for the U.S. to ultimately re-enter the international accord.

"There's nothing in it for the president this year. There's nothing in it for the president next year," Banks said. But in 2020, "he's going to want victories."

Under Banks's proposed plan, prior to the 2020 Group of Seven Summit, Trump would ask Congress to formalize the emissions proposal with legislation.

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The idea would be that Trump could escape criticism previously lobbed at President Obama for joining the Paris agreement without consulting the Senate. Additionally, the plan, according to Banks, would essentially put Congress in the driver's seat on climate regulations, taking the power away from the executive to enter future agreements.

"If you want to have some control over the regulatory agenda — you know, putting regulatory reform aside — then what you want to do is to have the ability to approve or disapprove the number because that controls what regulation is pursued to implement and make the target a reality," Banks told E&E of the emissions agreement the U.S. would make when reentering the accord. "That's what I would argue. It's in the Republican Party's interest to do that." 

Banks said he will promote his plan more openly now that he's no longer in the White House.

"I don't think that U.S. participation in the Paris Agreement can ever be effective without congressional support," he said.

Banks was one of the few in the Trump administration, along with Secretary of State Rex TillersonRex Wayne TillersonUS steps up its game in Africa, a continent open for business Matt Drudge shares mock ‘Survivor’ cover suggesting more White House officials will leave this summer 'Daily Show' trolls Trump over Pruitt's resignation MORE, who supported the U.S. remaining in the 2015 climate agreement.

Trump announced the country would be withdrawing from the agreement in June but has since made various comments about being willing to rejoin if he can negotiate the right terms.

“I believe in clean air. I believe in crystal-clear, beautiful … I believe in just having good cleanliness in all. Now, with that being said, if somebody said go back into the Paris accord, it would have to be a completely different deal because we had a horrible deal," Trump told Piers Morgan in an interview in January.

"As usual, they took advantage of the U.S. We were in a terrible deal. Would I go back in? Yeah, I’d go back in. I like, as you know, I like [French President] Emmanuel [Macron]. I would love to, but it’s got to be a good deal for the U.S.”