EDF, NRDC Oppose Trump Administration’s Legal Attack on California Coordination with Quebec to Cut Climate Pollution

February 13, 2020
Sharyn Stein, 202-572-3396, sstein@edf.org

(Sacramento – February 12, 2020) EDF and NRDC have filed in federal district court in opposition to the Trump administration’s radical legal attack on California’s collaboration with Quebec to cut climate pollution – an unprecedented lawsuit filed by the Trump administration as part of its continuing attacks on California’s lifesaving and innovative climate pollution reduction programs.

The Trump administration is suing California over its coordination with Quebec to cut dangerous climate pollution. Both governments developed independent cap-and-trade programs to reduce climate pollution but coordinated their carbon markets in order to create additional benefits for their residents.

EDF and NRDC filed a brief in opposition to a Trump administration motion for summary judgment on two claims alleged in the case.

“The lawsuit is the latest step in the Trump administration’s efforts to undermine health and environmental safeguards for millions of people in California. The Trump administration has attacked California’s clean air, clean car and clean water standards – and now this,” said EDF senior attorney Erica Morehouse. “Californians are afflicted by life-threatening droughts, wildfires and sea level rise linked to climate change, and the Golden state has developed an innovative climate policies to address the climate crisis.”

“The Trump administration has no business attacking California’s collaboration with Quebec to cut carbon pollution. It may have ceded leadership in the battle against climate change but that does not compel California to do so as well,” said Alex Jackson, senior attorney in NRDC’s Climate and Clean Energy Program.

California and Quebec have been working together for years to cut climate pollution through their coordinated cap-and-trade program. The Trump administration sued California in October asserting unprecedented constitutional claims. EDF and NRDC forcefully refute the Trump administration’s threadbare assertions the coordination violates the constitution’s Compact Clause or Treaty Clause:

“No state agreement has ever been invalidated under the Compact Clause, and none has been held to be an impermissible treaty since the Supreme Court recognized the invalidity of the Confederacy. [citation omitted] And the federal government has apparently never before sued a state under either provision.” (Brief, page 2)

“On the contrary, states have entered hundreds of agreements with foreign nations or subnational jurisdictions on a broad sweep of subjects from environmental policy to promotion of commerce to reciprocal recognition of driver’s licenses.” (Brief, page 2)

“Plaintiff’s real objection appears to be to California’s entire program to reduce the state’s [climate] emissions, not the coordination of its emissions market with that of Quebec…. California and Quebec’s coordinated market in [climate] emission allowances has no effect whatsoever on the federal government’s ability to take any action on climate change, or more aptly here, to continue to refuse to take any action… That this Administration has ceded the field in the battle against climate change does not compel the State to do so as well.” (Brief, pages 1 and 3)

The case is before the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of California.

The California Attorney General filed a cross motion for summary judgment and opposition, and the International Emissions Trading Association also filed in opposition to Trump administration’s motion.

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