WASHINGTON – The Trump administration on Wednesday filed a federal lawsuit against California claiming the state’s cap-and-trade agreement with the Canadian province of Quebec violates the constitutional principle that the federal government alone can conduct foreign policy.
“The design of the Constitution requires that the federal government be able to speak with one voice on behalf of the United States in matters of foreign affairs,” states the 17-page complaint filed in Sacramento federal court. “Allowing individual states in the Union to conduct their own foreign policy to advance their own narrow interests is thus anathema to our system of government and, if tolerated, would unlawfully enhance state power at the expense of the United States and undermine the United States’ ability to negotiate competitive international agreements.”
In 2013, California and Quebec inked a deal to link their cap-and-trade and emissions reduction programs. The goal of the agreement, which the two sides reaffirmed in 2017, is to have the state and province work together through information sharing and joint auctions to cut greenhouse gas emissions.
But the Trump administration says that agreement usurps the federal government’s constitutional role of setting foreign policy and entering into agreements or deals with foreign governments. The lawsuit says the agreement “complexifies” the federal government’s ability to enter into international agreements and could incentivize other states to strike similar pacts.
The suit asks a federal judge to declare the agreement between California and Quebec unconstitutional and to bar its implementation.
The action is the latest in a string of crackdowns the Trump administration has undertaken against California’s climate initiatives. Last month, California sued the administration after it revoked the state’s ability to set its own regulations on auto emissions.
In addition to the state of California, Wednesday’s lawsuit names Governor Gavin Newsom, the California Air Resources Board, its chair, and the Western Climate Initiative and its board members. The Western Climate Initiative is a nonprofit organization that facilitates the agreement and its board members are officials in the state and provincial governments.
In a statement, Newsom said the lawsuit is an example of Trump’s “political vendetta against California” and hit the White House for not taking on the threat of climate change.
“For years our state has proudly participated in a number of environmental partnerships that tackle the devastating effects of climate change to our health and economy,” Newsom said. “This latest attack shows that the White House has its head in the sand when it comes to climate change and serves no purpose other than continued political retribution.”
— By Tim Ryan