Pompeo defends Trump withdrawal from Paris accord

Source: Arianna Skibell, E&E News reporter • Posted: Friday, April 13, 2018

CIA Director Mike Pompeo said he stands by President Trump’s decision to withdraw from the Paris climate accord.

At his confirmation hearing today before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, the prospective secretary of State said the international climate deal would put undue burdens on the United States.

If confirmed as secretary of State, the former Kansas Republican congressman would be tasked with representing the United States in international climate discussions.

Sen. Ben Cardin (D-Md.) pressed Pompeo, saying “every nation in the world” has pledged to uphold the Paris Agreement.

“Your job is to work with the international community… and yet the United States would be the only country saying we don’t want to talk to you about climate,” Cardin said. “You don’t see a conflict in that position?”

Pompeo responded that there are many times the United States works with its allies and there are many times when “we don’t see it the same way,” he said.

“There will be places where our allies come alongside us, and there [will be places they don’t],” he said.

Cardin referenced statements Pompeo has made in the past questioning the science of climate change and slamming President Obama for “bowing down to the radical environmentalists” in Paris.

Pompeo continued to say he supports the president’s position to withdraw from the Paris Agreement but did not go into his views surrounding the validity of climate science.

In 2013, Pompeo said on C-SPAN that “there are scientists that think lots of different things about climate change. There’s some who think we’re warming; there’s some who think we’re cooling; there’s some who think that the last 16 years have shown a pretty stable climate environment.”

At Pompeo’s CIA confirmation hearing, he gave a more moderate response when Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) cited former CIA Director John Brennan’s finding that the impacts of climate change are causing rising instability in the world. She asked Pompeo whether he had reason to doubt that analysis.

“Senator Harris, I haven’t had a chance to — to read those materials with respect to climate change,” Pompeo answered. “I do know the agency’s role there. Its role is to collect foreign intelligence, to understand threats to the world — that would certainly include threats from poor governance, regional instability, threats from all sources — and deliver that information to policymakers.”

He continued, “And to the extent that changes in climatic activity are part of that foreign intelligence collection task, we will deliver that information to you all and to the president.”

Pompeo has also been criticized by environmentalists for being one of the top House recipients of cash from the pro-fossil-fuel Koch brothers.

Pompeo’s confirmation prospects are unclear. Republicans hold a 51-49 majority in the Senate, making confirmation uncertain, especially given that Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) is recovering from cancer treatment and Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) has made clear his opposition to the nomination over foreign policy disagreements. Democrats helped confirm Pompeo as CIA director, with 14 voting in his favor; if Pompeo fails to garner Democratic support this time around, his nomination could be in trouble.