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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 CardinLiberals howl after Democrats cave on witnesses Senate strikes deal, bypassing calling impeachment witnesses Senators, impeachment teams scramble to cut deal on witnesses 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 ObamaTrump and Obama: The odd couple who broke 'extended deterrence' for the Indo-Pacific The US is ripe for climate-friendly diets Obama says he once broke a classmate's nose for calling him a racial slur MORE, Secretary of State John KerryJohn KerryRecapturing the spirit of Bretton Woods The Iran deal is fragile — here's what the Biden administration can do Republican senators take aim at Paris agreement with new legislation 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.