Tillerson: 'My view didn’t change' on Paris climate agreement

Tillerson: 'My view didn’t change' on Paris climate agreement
© Greg Nash

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson told senators Tuesday that he still supports the Paris climate change agreement, despite President Trump’s decision to withdraw the United States from it.

Tillerson, the former CEO of Exxon Mobil Corp., was the most vocal voice in the Trump administration pushing the president to stay in the pact.

He told Sen. Ben CardinBenjamin (Ben) Louis CardinCongress should take the lead on reworking a successful Iran deal 'Fix' the Iran deal, but don't move the goalposts North Korea tensions ease ahead of Winter Olympics MORE (Md.), top Democrat on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, that he respects Trump’s decision but disagrees with it.

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“My view didn’t change,” Tillerson said at a hearing on the State Department’s budget. “My views were heard out. I respect that the president heard my views, but I respect the decision he’s taken.”

He said Trump was “quite deliberative” in his consideration of the Paris pact. The president “took some time to come to his decision, particularly waiting until he had heard from European counterparts in the G7 on it,” Tillerson said.

The State Department is the chief agency responsible for international agreements and treaties. Under former President Barack ObamaBarack Hussein ObamaMcCarthy: ‘No deadline on DACA’ Democrats will need to explain if they shut government down over illegal immigration Trump’s first year in office was the year of the woman MORE, Secretary of State John KerryJohn Forbes KerryFeehery: Oprah Dem presidential bid unlikely Dem hopefuls flock to Iowa Change in Iran will only come from its people — not the United States MORE was the key point person in developing the Paris pact.

But Tillerson didn’t participate in Trump’s public events surrounding his decision earlier this month to pull out of the Paris deal, including a grand White House ceremony to announce the withdrawal.

Instead, Environmental Protection Agency chief Scott Pruitt, an outspoken opponent of the Paris agreement, took the lead among administration officials in those events.