The Obama administration allegedly entered the  Paris Climate Agreement illegally, says the lawsuit filed by Government Accountability & Oversight (GAO).

GAO reportedly filed the lawsuit on behalf of the nonprofit organization Energy Policy Advocates (EPA). EPA claimed that it possesses a document purporting to be the Obama State Department’s “Circular 175” memo. The memo is said to have justified the binding of the United States with the Paris Climate Accord. It also indicates that the United States could be involve in the Paris treaty without the approval of the Senate.

In the memo, the Obama administration argued that with the ratified 1992 U.N. Framework Convention, only those “legally binding targets and timetables” agreements are subject to Senate’s consent and advice.

The Obama White House declared the December 2015 Paris agreement the “most ambitious climate change agreement in history,” therefore more ambitious than two predecessor climate agreements acknowledged by all parties to be treaties, which implicitly denies it as a treaty, according to the lawsuit. 

Yet, GAO cited page 14 of Exec. Rept. 102-55, “Report to Accompany Treaty Doc. 102-38,” pointing out that the Senate clearly set forth two, distinct hypothetical agreements requiring Senate approval, one of which being any decision “to adopt targets and timetables”—not just those purporting to be “legally binding” (e.g., Kyoto, Paris).

Chris Horner, GAO attorney concluded, “This memo demonstrates the Obama administration’s unlawful entry into the Paris treaty,” “It represents a major political and legal scandal,” added he.

The EPA sought records from State Department under the Freedom of Information Act (“FOIA”) but claimed that it has not been provided with any of the statutorily required responses. It also noted that the State department had been improperly hiding those records from the public.

The Paris climate agreement set goals on preventing another 0.9 degrees (0.5 degrees Celsius) to 1.8 degrees (1 degree Celsius) of warming from current levels. The deal calls for nations to come up with more ambitious pollution cuts every five years, starting in November 2020. 

President Trump said in 2017 that he would withdraw from the treaty and has faced fierce criticism since then. 

The Trump administration formally notified the United Nations on Monday that the United States will begin its withdrawal from the Paris climate accord.

President Trump defended his withdrawal decision, saying other countries benefit from the climate accord at the expense of America.

He argued that the United States is sitting on the planet’s greatest treasure, which needs processing through fracking technology.

“We have this unbelievable—the greatest in the world. We have the greatest resources, which really came about over the last few years. Nobody knew this. Fracking made it possible. Other new technologies made it possible. And now we’re the No. 1— think of it, as I said—the No. 1 energy producer in the world,” he said.