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 CardinSenate Democrats aim to repeal rules blocking Trump tax law workarounds Congress briefed on Iran after Saudi oil attacks Senate Democrats hesitant to go all-in on impeachment probe 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 ObamaButtigieg tweeted support for 'Medicare for All' in 2018 Brent Budowsky: To Bush and Obama — speak out on Trump Graham on Syria: Trump appears 'hell-bent' on repeating Obama's mistakes in Iraq MORE, Secretary of State John KerryJohn Forbes KerryDemocrats have reason to worry after the last presidential debate Overnight Energy: Farmers say EPA reneged on ethanol deal | EPA scrubs senators' quotes from controversial ethanol announcement | Perry unsure if he'll comply with subpoena | John Kerry criticizes lack of climate talk at debate John Kerry calls out lack of climate questions at debate 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.