14 AGs to court: Calif.-Quebec pact OK under state powers

Source: By Jennifer Hijazi, E&E News reporter • Posted: Thursday, May 28, 2020

Addressing climate change is a state responsibility and thus does not interfere with federal powers, the top attorneys for 14 states said in a Tuesday brief filed with the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of California.

“This very Court has expressly reaffirmed in this case that mitigating the effects of climate change by regulating greenhouse gases falls within states’ traditional responsibility to protect health and welfare,” the states wrote.

“Plaintiff is wrong to argue that these efforts have ‘no serious claim to be addressing a traditional state responsibility,'” they said.

Oregon Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum (D) led the brief and was joined by Connecticut, Delaware, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, New Jersey, New York, Rhode Island, Vermont and Washington.

The Trump administration has argued that the greenhouse gas emissions trading agreement between California and Quebec, which was designed to curb harmful emissions, violates the federal government’s constitutional authority over foreign affairs and treaties.

Senior Judge William Shubb earlier this year struck down two of the Justice Department’s claims after the George W. Bush appointee concluded that the pact did not constitute a protected foreign treaty (Climatewire, March 13).

DOJ came back with a new attempt to block the emissions pact, trying its luck with its two remaining claims that the agreement between California and Quebec gets in the way of national foreign affairs and commerce. Because climate change is a global issue, the government argued, regulation of greenhouse gases is not the responsibility of any individual state.

The court will hold a hearing next month on the government’s new motion for summary judgment.