Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke has said he does not believe climate change is a hoax, but on Friday he defended President Donald Trump's decision to pull out of the Paris climate agreement, saying the "deal is bad" for the United States.
"It's only 20 pages, but as you read through it, we pay for it," Zinke told Fox News' "America's Newsroom" program. "We pay billions of dollars up front, more than anyone else."
Further, the deal itself "doesn't do anything," Zinke said. "It doesn't move the needle if everyone complies, and we lose jobs. It was a bad deal. If we're going to sit down and have a climate change deal, then let's make it fair."
Under the deal, the United States is losing jobs, Zinke continued, but Russia, China, and India are allowed to "take a walk." In China, for example the deal does not call for emissions to drop until 2030, but as for now, the secretary said they are climbing.
Zinke also rejected a claim by former President Barack Obama that abandoning the Paris climate agreement means rejecting the future.
"I think [Trump] has said he will renegotiate it, offer to renegotiate it," said Zinke. "But it should be fair and the burden should not rest on American jobs and the backs of our manufacturing base."
The United States is leading the world in innovative technology, he continued, including for clean energy, oil and gas, and coal.
"We are leading the world in making sure that we have clean air, clean water, but if everyone would step up like we have with innovation, technology, pursuit of cleaner, better energy, then we wouldn't have a problem," he said. "The president took the decisive action he should have."
Meanwhile, Zinke has just returned from Alaska, and said the United States is focused on the strategic petroleum reserve there.
"The last administration made millions of acres unavailable in the petroleum reserve," said Zinke. "We're focused on looking at it and doing assessments of what's in the area."
Congress will need to take up the matter of drilling, he concluded, but on the administration's side, "we're going to continue and make available sections that are in the petroleum reserve. I look at it as America is much better for energy dominant and the world is safer if America is strong."
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