If environmentalists needed any reminder about the power of federalism, they only need read this front-page story from Sunday's New York Times, which explains why “some of the nation’s biggest industries are pushing for something they have long resisted: new federal regulations.” One key reason for the push: “[t]he willingness of state legislators to enact their own regulations or [state] attorneys general to join together to go after companies….”
Regular readers of Warming Law, of course, are familiar with the dynamic of state action pushing federal regulation. And those less up-to-date would do well to also check out Friday's Christian Science Monitor for a comprehensive overview of how Judge Sessions' ruling in Vermont plays out in a larger context-- including the tidbit that roughly half the domestic auto market is covered by the 18 states that have enacted California's standards or are moving towards doing so. We’re glad to see that the story is getting a wider audience.
The Times story is not all good news. It points out that some industries are turning to the federal government for broad pre-emption of strict state consumer protection laws and product liability claims, thereby thwarting federalism. We’ve written before about the perils of overbroad pre-emption.
But the larger point, and the one most salient for the global warming fight, is that it’s flat out wrong to say that state efforts to cut greenhouse gas emissions won’t make a difference. These rules not only get millions of tons of greenhouse gas pollution out of the atmosphere, they also push polluting industries to seek real solutions at the federal level, which is what states have been asking for all along.