U.S. Sues California over State’s Cap and Trade Agreement with Quebec

WASHINGTON (Reuters) -

The United States on Wednesday filed a civil complaint against California, state officials, the California Air Resources Board, and the Western Climate Initiative Inc for entering into a cap and trade agreement on greenhouse gas emissions with the Canadian province of Quebec, the Justice Department said.

“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,” said Assistant Attorney General Jeffrey Bossert Clark.

In its latest confrontation with California over the state’s aggressive approach to combat air pollution and climate change, President Donald Trump’s administration is arguing that the constitution prohibits states from making treaties or pacts with foreign powers.

The Justice Department said California “entered into a complex, integrated cap-and-trade program with the Canadian province of Quebec in 2013 without congressional approval.”

The Trump administration has frequently confronted the state over environmental policy, escalating its fight last month with a letter to Governor Gavin Newsom, accusing the state of violating clean water laws.

Hundreds of former U.S. Environmental Protection Agency employees are urging a congressional probe into whether the agency’s feud with California represents retaliation for the state’s failure to support Trump’s political agenda.