Trump sues California over its carbon-cutting pact with Quebec

Jennifer A. Dlouhy

The Trump administration on Wednesday launched a legal assault on another of California’s plans to combat climate change, filing a lawsuit challenging the state’s carbon-cutting pact with Quebec.

The lawsuit, filed in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of California, argues the state stepped outside its proper constitutional lane by making a deal with the Canadian province on a cap-and-trade scheme for limiting carbon dioxide emissions.

The move is the latest in a series of actions the Trump administration has taken against California as it simultaneously challenges the state’s authority to set aggressive greenhouse gas emissions-cutting mandates on vehicles and complains the state has been too lax in confronting local pollution problems.

The administration argues that the Constitution bars states from making treaties or compacts with foreign powers – like the cap-and-trade program California entered into with Quebec in 2013.

Such foreign policy matters are the purview of the federal government, the Justice Department asserts.

“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, of the Justice Department’s Environment and Natural Resources Division, said in a news release. “California’s unlawful cap-and-trade agreement with Quebec undermines the President’s ability to negotiate competitive agreements with other nations, as the president sees fit.”

Representatives of the California Air Resources Board did not immediately respond to an emailed request for comment.

The case is U.S. v. California, 19-at-1013, U.S. District Court, Eastern District of California (Sacramento).

With assistance from Andrew Harris.