Secretary of State Rex Tillerson’s abrupt resignation Tuesday signaled the downfall of the pro-Paris accord wing of President Donald Trump’s administration and the rise of officials skeptical of global warming policies.
Tillerson was among a handful of top Trump administration officials to support the Paris Climate Accord, which former President Barack Obama’s administration joined in 2016. Tillerson’s the third pro-Paris official to leave the White House in the last month.
Trump tapped CIA Director Mike Pompeo to replace Tillerson as head of the State Department. That’s good news for conservatives who pushed President Donald Trump to completely abandon Obama-era climate policies.
“President Trump himself stated that Pompeo is more closely aligned with him on international issues than was Tillerson, and both Trump and Pompeo have been vocal critics of the Paris Agreement,” American Energy Alliance President Tom Pyle told The Daily Caller News Foundation.
“Tillerson was a supporter of it at ExxonMobil and during his confirmation hearings. On this issue, Pompeo is definitely an upgrade,” Pyle said. He once headed Trump’s Energy Department transition team.
Pompeo opposed the Paris accord. He criticized Obama for bowing “down to radical environmentalists, all the while refusing to stand up to radical Islamists.”
Competitive Enterprise Institute’s Myron Ebell, who headed Trump’s EPA transition team, echoed Pyle’s optimism on the news of Tillerson’s departure.
“In terms of the climate debate, I would say this is very good news,” Ebell told Politico Pro. “Pompeo has been very skeptical of the international negotiations that led to Paris, so I’d say we’re in a stronger position today than with Tillerson there.”
Ironically, Tillerson’s departure has environmentalists worried another pro-Paris voice on global warming has left the administration, including activists who opposed his nomination.
Tillerson distanced himself early on from Trump’s opposition to the Paris accord and belonged to a group of high level officials pushing to remain party to the agreement.
National Economic Council Chair Gary Cohn, former energy adviser to George David Banks and adviser to Jared Kushner and First Daughter Ivanka Trump, also supported the Paris accord. Two of those four have since resigned from the administration.
Cohn announced his resignation roughly eight days ago, and Banks left the White House in February after being denied a security clearance over past marijuana use. Kushner’s sway in the White House has been marginalized since being denied a security clearance.
Tillerson’s overtures for Trump to stay in the Paris accord largely failed. Trump announced in June the U.S. would withdraw from the accord, but administration messaging on the matter was muddled in the following months.
U.S. diplomats have still participated in international climate meetings — including the United Nations summit in Bonn, Germany, last November — despite the planned withdrawal. Banks is still pushing for rejoining the Paris accord, though Tillerson’s exit may dampen his hopes.