The U.S. energy industry is awaiting the outcome of talks inside the White House this week, as the Trump administration debates its future commitment to the Paris climate deal.
Continue Reading Below
More than three dozen energy groups and conservative think-tanks sent a letter to President Donald Trump on Monday urging him to withdraw from the Paris Climate Treaty. However, major energy companies such as Exxon Mobil (NYSE:XOM) and Chevron (NYSE:CVX) want the U.S. to maintain its role in the agreement to support American energy production, particularly natural gas.
In its own letter to the Trump administration, Exxon said it believes the U.S. can meet environmental goals under the deal using its abundance of natural-gas resources.
Robust demand for natural gas, which emits less carbon dioxide than coal, has helped the U.S. lower its overall carbon emissions, Exxon noted. Other countries can do the same if “all available energy sources and technologies are given equitable treatment under country specific climate policies,” it said.
“It is prudent that the United States remain a party to the Paris agreement to ensure a level playing field, so that global energy markets remain as free and competitive as possible,” Peter Trelenberg, Exxon’s manager for environmental policy and planning, wrote in a March letter.
Chevron said it “supports continuing with the Paris Agreement as it offers a first step towards a global framework,” adding that reducing emissions requires “global engagement.”
“Policies should be balanced and measured to ensure long-term economic, environmental and energy security needs are all met,” Chevron said in a statement.
The Trump administration, in advance of a final determination, has asked energy producers to weigh in on the U.S.’s potential exit from the Paris climate deal. During his campaign, Trump pledged to “cancel” the 2015 agreement as part of an effort to roll back the Obama administration’s environmental regulations. But recent reports suggest that key administration officials, including Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, want the U.S. to stay the course in order to have a say on global climate policies. Energy Secretary Rick Perry said in April that the U.S. should “renegotiate” and push for changes to the accord, rather than scrap it entirely.
The administration is expected to make its call by May 26, the start of a conference in Italy that includes the Group of Seven nations at the center of the accord. In a speech April 29 in Harrisburg, Pa., Trump said a decision was no more than two weeks away, putting him on track for an announcement this week.
The Paris deal, which includes a total of nearly 200 countries, calls for the U.S. to cut emissions by 26% to 28% below 2005 levels by 2025.
Those targets are already in jeopardy. The Clean Power Plan, which has been put on hold by the Supreme Court, was a central component of the previous administration’s plans to meet those goals. In March, Trump signed an executive order to begin unwinding the Clean Power Plan.