Judge scraps Trump’s final cap-and-trade challenge

Source: By Jennifer Hijazi, E&E News reporter • Posted: Monday, July 20, 2020

Senior Judge William Shubb of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of California ruled Friday that the cap-and-trade agreement between the Golden State and Quebec does not infringe on federally held powers to govern foreign affairs.

“Hypothetical or speculative fears cannot support a finding that this state program has more than an incidental effect on foreign affairs,” Shubb wrote in his order. “The United States has failed to show that California’s program impermissibly intrudes on the federal government’s foreign affairs power.”

The Trump administration brought the lawsuit last year in an effort to disband the pact, which was created to foster a cross-border market for greenhouse gases in an attempt to cut down on carbon emissions. The Trump administration argued that it violated constitutional rights that govern foreign affairs and treaties.

Shubb, a George W. Bush appointee, in March dismissed two other claims that said California’s pact interferes with national treaty and compact powers. The government dropped its third claim (Climatewire, March 13).

The latest decision puts to rest certain legal questions over the rights of states to work with international neighbors on efforts like carbon reduction. Some experts said an unfavorable outcome could have chilled state-led initiatives to cooperate with other countries in similar agreements (Climatewire, March 11).

“California faces the clear and present danger of climate change, and is innovating and leading with solutions that protect lives, create jobs and strengthen the economy,” said Environmental Defense Fund senior attorney Erica Morehouse in a statement. “We need states to take on this role as laboratories of experimentation today more than ever, especially when the federal government fails to provide sound leadership.”