Published on January 25th, 2017 | by Steve Hanley
California Governor Will Challenge Trump, EPA On Climate Change, Emissions
California governor Jerry Brown is not taking a back seat to the radical Trump agenda. In his State of the State message to the California legislature this week, governor Jerry Brown said “California is not turning back. Not now, not ever.” Brown reaffirmed the state’s plan to cut carbon emissions by 40% from 1990 levels by 2030. “We’ve got the scientists, we’ve got the lawyers, and we’re ready to fight,” Brown told the American Geophysical Union Conference in San Francisco last week. “Whatever Washington thinks they are doing, California is the future.”
“While no one knows what the new leaders will actually do, there are signs that are disturbing. We have seen the bold assertion of ‘alternative facts.’ We have heard the blatant attacks on science,” California governor Brown added. “Familiar signposts of our democracy — truth, civility, working together — have been obscured or swept aside.”
Mary Nichols, chair of the California Air Resources Board, told reporters, “Climate change is impacting California now, and we need to continue to take bold and effective action to address it head on to protect and improve the quality of life in California. The plan will help us meet both our climate and our clean air goals in the coming decades and provide billions of dollars in investments to cut greenhouse gases, smog and toxic pollution in disadvantaged communities throughout the state. It is also designed to continue to drive creative innovation, generating good new jobs in the growing clean technology sector.”
The three main parts of the plan are the addition of 4.2 million zero emissions vehicles to the roads in California, strengthening the state’s vehicle emissions standards, and reducing greenhouse gases 20% from the state’s refinery sector.
Many people are expecting the flash point between the state and federal governments will be the vehicle emissions standards promulgated by the California Air Resources Board. In existence since before the EPA was created, it has been allowed to impose higher standards on car makers who sell cars within the state than those required by federal regulations.
Ordinarily, state laws that conflict with federal law are rendered unenforceable by something called the supremacy clause of the US Constitution. The supremacy clause is what enabled civil rights legislation to override local state laws that were part of the Jim Crow era. Back then, liberals embraced the supremacy clause. Today, they prefer to take a stand on the basis of state’s rights, the very doctrine that so many states, especially those in the south, relied on to resist voting rights legislation, universal healthcare, and other “socialist” legislation.
Until now, CARB has been able to imposed its higher standard because it was issued a waiver by the EPA. The thinking was that states are free to enact tougher standards but not weaker ones. Only once before, during the George W Bush administration, did the EPA refuse to grant the waiver, so there is precedent for not doing so. Trump’s pick to head the EPA, Scott Pruitt, refused to reveal during his confirmation hearing whether he would support a continuation of the waiver for CARB, even though he himself has aggressively waived the state’s rights banner during his protracted battles with the very agency he is now supposed to lead.
“It’s troublesome, because obviously what we have heard all day is how much you support states’ rights when it comes to these issues,” Massachusetts senator Ed Markey said during an exchange with Pruitt. “But now when it comes to the right of California or Massachusetts and other states to be able to reduce carbon pollution, you’re saying you are going to review that.”
California has everything Trump hates. It has more regulations, more progressive social policies, and higher taxes that virtually any other state. Yet it is the place where innovators and job creators flock to when setting up new businesses and building new factories. According to the world according to Donald Trump, California should be a stagnant economic backwater drowning in burdensome government overreach. Nothing could be further from the truth.
Trump has suggested broadly that he would look favorably on the breakup of the European Union. He was a strong supporter of the Brexit vote that took the UK out of the EU and is encouraging other nations to do likewise. But what would his stance be if California and some adjacent states decided to say goodbye to the good ol’ US of A? The idea of a CalExit strategy began circulating on the internet as soon as the election results confirmed Trump as the next president.
America has shown itself to be deeply divided on social and economic issues. Dark clouds are gathering on the horizon and the gathering storm may portend a titanic struggle between the states unlike anything seen since the 1800’s. California is not backing down and neither is Trump. It is hard to see how a condition of peaceful coexistence between the two opposing ideologies can be achieved.
Source: Think Progress