by John Schwartz
New York Times

WASHINGTON — The debate within the Trump administration over what to do about the Paris climate agreement has reached a critical phase, according to people familiar with the internal negotiations. The decision could hinge on the interpretation of a single phrase in a single provision of a document that took years to write.

The question is whether to walk away from the agreement sealed by the Obama administration and nearly 200 other nations at the end of 2015 — as Donald J. Trump promised as a presidential candidate to do — or to weaken the nation’s commitment under the deal to reducing greenhouse gases while remaining in the accord…

Christopher C. Horner, a senior legal fellow at the Energy and Environment Legal Institute, said liberal state attorneys general and climate activists would inevitably sue over efforts to weaken the targets. “This will be most aggressive in the Ninth Circuit, which hopefully triggers some memories in the minds of administration lawyers,” he said, referring to the fight over the administration’s immigration plan, which has been stayed by the California-based federal appeals court.

“Despite the mad rush to insist that plain language means either the opposite of what it says, or else nothing at all, under any canon of construction, Article 4 does not permit revisions downward,” Mr. Horner said. “The language is deliberate and reads only one way: the way it was written and, as the context affirms, was plainly intended.”

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