Environmental Protection

CAC Brief Supports State and Local Innovation in Combating Global Warming

November 24, 2008

Constitutional Accountability Center (CAC) filed a legal brief today in the United States Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit on behalf of a coalition of prominent State and local government organizations to support California’s efforts to enforce its first-in-the-nation greenhouse gas emissions standards for automobiles. The case in which the brief was submitted, California v. EPA, was filed after the federal Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) blocked California’s auto emissions standards by refusing to grant the State a waiver of federal preemption under the Clean Air Act. The briefs filed by and on behalf of California provide a compelling basis for the court to invalidate EPA’s decision and for President Obama to reconsider the waiver denial when he takes office in January.

CAC represents the National Conference of State Legislatures, the National Association of Counties, the National League of Cities, the International Municipal Lawyers Association, and the American Planning Association. The State and local regulators represented by these organizations have been at the forefront of a movement to mitigate the public health and welfare effects of climate change in the face of the Bush Administration’s reluctance to address global warming.

As CAC’s brief demonstrates, the EPA Administrator’s reasons for blocking California’s emissions program are contrary to the text of the Clean Air Act, congressional intent, and the Supreme Court’s “presumption against preemption,” which requires that federal statutes be read to allow for state regulation unless Congress expresses its intent to preempt state law pursuant to the Constitution’s Supremacy Clause. Indeed, as California’s brief chronicles, EPA’s own legal and technical staff unanimously recommended that the waiver be granted. “President-elect Obama has pledged to work in partnership with the States to address climate change and promote clean energy. The briefs in California v. EPA show that this requires that he reconsider the denial of California’s waiver requests,” said CAC’s Chief Counsel, Elizabeth Wydra.

In California v. EPA, CAC filed its amicus brief jointly with the City of New York, King County (Washington), the Canadian Province of British Columbia, and the National Association of Clean Air Agencies. CAC assists State and local officials in upholding valid and democratically enacted measures and historic common law remedies. Over the last decade, CAC and its predecessor organization, Community Rights Counsel, filed briefs in important global warming and preemption cases before the Supreme Court and lower federal and state courts across the country.

Contact: Doug Kendall or Elizabeth Wydra


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