WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The United States on Wednesday sued California for entering a climate agreement with Canada’s Quebec province, saying the state had no right to conduct foreign policy, in the latest feud between the Trump administration and the state.
FILE PHOTO: California’s Governor Gavin Newsom is seen at the California Democratic Convention in San Francisco, California, U.S. June 1, 2019. REUTERS/Stephen Lam/File Photo
President Donald Trump’s administration argued in the lawsuit that California’s 2013 agreement to link its emission-trading program – the centerpiece of its climate change policy – to Quebec’s violates the constitution, which prohibits states from making treaties or pacts with foreign powers.
“The state of California has veered outside of its proper constitutional lane to enter into an international emissions agreement. The power to enter into such agreements is reserved to the federal government, which must be able to speak with one voice in the area of U.S. foreign policy,” Assistant Attorney General Jeffrey Bossert Clark said in a statement.
California, the most populous state and one of the top 10 largest economies in the world, has positioned itself as a leader on climate change action in the absence of federal leadership on the issue, setting off numerous political and legal battles with Washington.
Trump, a Republican who questions the science behind climate change, has eased regulations on the oil, gas and coal industries and intends to pull the United States out of the 2015 Paris agreement on climate change.
The U.S. Justice Department said California, state officials, the California Air Resources Board, and the Western Climate Initiative Inc entered a complex cap-and-trade emissions-curbing climate program with Quebec in 2013 without congressional approval.
California’s Attorney General Xavier Becerra countered on Wednesday that the Trump administration is attempting to “chip away” at the cap and trade program it has had in place since 2012, which he said was “strengthened” by linking with Quebec.
California and Quebec’s emissions-trading programs are connected through the Western Climate Initiative, a carbon market program in which governments set a steadily declining limit on emissions, and polluters that cut emissions quickly can sell credits to others that need more time.
Environmental lawyers said the three Republican and Democratic governors in California who designed the cap-and-trade system and authorized its linkage with Quebec’s market were on “solid legal and constitutional ground.”