EDF Files Brief Opposing Trump Administration’s Challenge to California and Quebec Coordination in Reducing Climate Pollution

May 19, 2020
Raul Arce-Contreras, (240) 480-1545, rcontreras@edf.org

Environmental Defense Fund filed a brief in opposition to the Trump administration’s lawsuit against California’s collaboration with Quebec to cut dangerous climate pollution. The brief is a response to the administration’s latest arguments that make a far-reaching constitutional attack on the successful climate program.

The brief, filed yesterday, opposes a Trump administration motion for summary judgment on a constitutional claim related to the reach of the President’s foreign affairs power. The Trump administration filed this additional motion for summary judgment after the court ruled in favor of California and interveners, including EDF, on March 12, rejecting claims by the Trump administration that California’s voluntary collaboration contravened the Constitution’s Treaty Clause and Compact Clause. The Trump administration has also withdrawn its claims that the collaboration violates the Foreign Commerce Clause. 

“The Justice department’s lawsuit against California for its collaboration with Quebec to cost-effectively reduce dangerous climate pollution is just one more ploy in a series of efforts by the Trump administration to undermine health and environmental safeguards for millions of people,” said EDF Senior Attorney Erica Morehouse. “We strongly oppose the Trump administration’s sweeping and unprecedented claim asserting virtually unlimited authority to deem unconstitutional life-saving state protections that address dangerous air pollution.”

The case is before the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of California. EDF filed its brief jointly with Natural Resources Defense Council. In it they argue:

  • Plaintiff’s arguments “risk empowering the President to effectively veto state laws with which he or she simply disagrees, merely by asserting their inconsistency with inchoate foreign policy goals—precisely what Plaintiff is attempting here. To avoid that, courts have cabined the doctrine by requiring clear conflicts with clear executive foreign policy or a clear showing that the state law does not advance a bona fide domestic purpose and that it clearly interferes with the affairs of foreign countries.” (p.11)
  • “Plaintiff has utterly failed to show any conflict [with U.S. foreign policy], let alone the necessary “clear conflict” with that policy. Given California’s strong interest in cost-effective control of GHG emissions—as already recognized by this Court—Plaintiff’s burden is especially heavy. It has not come close to carrying it.” (p. 17)

The California Attorney General and the International Emissions Trading Association also filed in oppositions to the Trump administration’s motion. California also filed a cross-motion for summary judgment on Plaintiffs’ foreign affairs claims.

Oral arguments will be heard by Judge William Shubb in the Eastern District of California on June 29, 2020.

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