Energy & Environment

Judge rejects Trump administration challenge to California cap-and-trade program

Greg Nash

A federal judge on Friday upheld a California program that caps carbon emissions from the transportation sector after the Trump administration sued the state over it.

The Justice Department last year challenged the cap-and-trade program, which aims to improve air quality and allows companies in the state to trade emissions credits with others in Quebec.

The federal government argued that California exceeded the role of the states and intruded on the federal government’s foreign policy authority, particularly its withdrawal from the Paris Agreement. 

However, judge William Shubb disagreed, ruling that “the United States has failed to show that California’s program impermissibly intrudes on the federal government’s foreign affairs power.”

Asked for comment on the George H.W. Bush appointee’s decision, Justice Department spokesperson Danielle Nichols told The Hill in an email that the department is “considering our next steps.”

A spokesperson for California Attorney General Xavier Becerra referred The Hill to a past statement in which the lawyer said “California’s Cap-and-Trade Program has existed since 2012 and was only strengthened from our collaboration with Quebec.”

“California has long been a leader in fighting climate change for the sake of protecting public health, our natural resources, our economy, and indeed our planet,” the spokesperson added. 

Shubb had previously nixed another argument by the Trump administration, claiming the program was akin to a treaty, in March. 

Nationally, the transportation sector is the largest source of greenhouse gas emissions as of 2018. 

California and the Trump administration have also gone toe-to-toe on other environmental issues. 

Last year, the state and nearly two dozen others sued the administration over its decision to revoke California’s ability to set its own vehicle emissions standards.

Tags Xavier Becerra

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