Quebec hopes Trump administration lawsuit doesn’t force California out of carbon market
MONTREAL – The Trump administration won’t slow down Quebec’s progress on reducing carbon emissions, Premier Francois Legault said Wednesday following news that California is being sued for working with the province on fighting climate change.
Legault said he would prefer that California stays in what’s known as a cap and trade system, but he said the program is still viable without the U.S. state. Moreover, Legault told reporters in Quebec City, other U.S. governors have shown interest in joining the program.
The Trump administration filed a lawsuit in California, alleging the state usurped federal power to conduct foreign policy to make international accords when it signed an ongoing agreement with Quebec to limit emissions.
California “veered outside its proper constitutional lane,” Assistant U.S. Attorney General Jeffrey Bossert Clark said in a statement.
Companies in Quebec and California that emit large amounts of greenhouse gases are required to purchase allowances, with prices set in joint auctions held four times a year. Quebec joined California’s auction system in 2014 and Ontario did the same in 2017, only to exit the agreement a year later.
“We are satisfied with the carbon market,” Legault said. “If California exits, I think we can continue alone, but we prefer that California stays in the carbon market.”
Legault called the cap and trade program, “intelligent,” adding, “I prefer that system to a carbon tax.”
California says it’s being punished for its advocacy.
Governor Gavin Newsom said Wednesday that the state’s cap and trade system is five years old, questioning why Trump is “attacking it” now.
“Political. Retribution. Weaponizing our government to attack his political opponents seems to be a common theme of this admin. Spoiler alert: it won’t end well,” the governor said on Twitter.
In his first news conference since Monday’s federal election, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said he wasn’t aware of the lawsuit’s details or how it would affect Quebec, but added he would look “look very carefully” at the legal challenge.
“Quebec has long demonstrated leadership in the fight against climate change, like B.C., in Canada,” Trudeau told reporters in Ottawa. “And we’re going to make sure we are continuing to fight climate change across this country in ways that we can.”
The Trump administration’s lawsuit is its latest attempt to stymie state efforts aimed at contesting the administration’s rollbacks of environmental and climate protections.
In September, President Donald Trump announced his administration would revoke California’s authority to set auto mileage standards stricter than those issued by federal regulators.
The president also declared in 2017 he would pull the United States from the Paris climate agreement but he has not officially done so yet.