BY DEVIN HENRY – 05/25/17 11:57 AM EDT
Top Senate Republicans, including Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), told President Trump on Thursday to abandon the Paris climate change deal negotiated by former President Obama.
In a letter to Trump, 20 Republicans said the Paris agreement would create “burdensome regulations” in pursuit of cutting climate change-causing greenhouse gas emissions.
They argued environmentalists could use the Paris deal as a “legal defense” in lawsuits calling for more stringent regulations like the Clean Power Plan, a key climate rule from the Obama administration.
They also dismissed arguments from the deal’s supporters, who say leaving Paris would hurt the U.S.’s ability to influence future climate agreements.
“We applaud you for your ongoing efforts to reduce overregulation in America,” the senators wrote in their letter to Trump, noting his use of executive orders and legislation cutting Obama-era rules.
“To continue on this path, we urge you to make a clean exit from the Paris agreement so that your administration can follow through on its commitment to rescind the Clean Power Plan.”
Sens. John Barrasso (R-Wyo.) and James Inhofe (R-Okla.), two of the senate’s biggest opponents of the Paris deal, co-wrote the letter.
The White House has been debating whether the U.S. should pull out of the Paris deal, something Trump promised as a candidate.
Supporters of the deal say leaving the pact will isolate the U.S. diplomatically and economically. Hundreds of businesses have urged Trump to stay in the deal, as have some energy firms, environmentalists and Democrats.
Republicans’ Thursday message to Trump came the day after Senate Democrats sent the president a letter of their own, asking him to stay in the deal.
The White House has said Trump will decide on the future of the Paris deal after this weekend’s Group of Seven conference.