States, professors support Calif. emissions deal with Quebec

Source: By Jennifer Hijazi, E&E News reporter • Posted: Wednesday, February 19, 2020

States are rallying behind California in a lawsuit filed by the Trump administration in an attempt to strip the Golden State of its cap-and-trade deal with Quebec.

Fourteen states led by Democratic attorneys general filed a friend-of-the-court brief in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of California yesterday, telling the court that California’s agreement with the Canadian province does not unduly increase state powers.

The federal government sued California last year over its climate program with Quebec, which was created to build a market for emissions. Justice Department lawyers claim the deal violates laws against treaties between individual states and foreign powers.

California argues that the agreement does not constitute a treaty or threaten federal sovereignty (Greenwire, Feb. 12).

States — including Oregon, New York, Washington and Massachusetts — said the agreement is simply an exercise of state authority to regulate pollution.

“Interjurisdictional agreements are widespread, with agreements between States and foreign governments alone numbering in the hundreds or thousands. Few such agreements have been submitted for congressional consent or challenged in court,” states wrote in their brief.

“And an interjurisdictional agreement that rises to the level of an illegal treaty is rarer still.”

Foreign relations professors included a similar argument in their own brief filed this week in support of California. The academics wrote that the contract in question does not resemble a treaty or a contract that would require congressional approval.

“While the ‘United States’ is the nominal plaintiff in this case, it bears noting that this case is entirely the initiative of the executive branch. Congress — the branch of the federal government constitutionally charged with reviewing state compacts — has been silent,” the professors said.

“The executive branch offers no serious argument how California’s arrangement with Quebec impedes U.S. foreign relations or encroaches on federal supremacy.”