Blowing Hot Air: An Analysis of State Involvement in Greenhouse Gas Litigation

60 Pages Posted: 29 Feb 2012 Last revised: 3 Apr 2012

See all articles by Caroline Cecot

Caroline Cecot

George Mason University - Antonin Scalia Law School, Faculty

Date Written: January 31, 2012


Thirty-seven states have been involved in at least one of the lawsuits challenging the Environmental Protection Agency’s greenhouse gas regulations. By constructing a dataset of potential influences on state involvement, I empirically test states’ motivations to enter the litigation as either intervenors or parties. I find that the states' involvement is strongly associated with their political affiliations and somewhat associated with potential industry costs. Meanwhile, differences in climate change risks and public opinion do not drive the states' decisions. This Note argues that such state involvement in environmental litigation is undesirable and that the Environmental Protection Agency could stem such political actions by analyzing the costs and benefits of major environmental regulations by state. State-by-state analyses would highlight important distributional impacts among states, which would push Congress to alleviate those concerns through the political process. Meanwhile, such state-by-state analyses would also make overtly political decisions by state leaders more transparent; constituents could use the state-specific analyses to evaluate the positions of their leaders. Solving the tension caused by the differential impacts of climate change and climate change mitigation strategies in the United States could have helpful implications for international climate change treaties. Furthermore, this Note’s findings that the positions of state attorneys general are largely determined by politics in the environmental arena could suggest critical scrutiny of the motivations behind their positions in other litigation.

Keywords: climate change, greenhouse gases, EPA, states, environmental litigation

JEL Classification: K23, K32, K41

Suggested Citation

Cecot, Caroline, Blowing Hot Air: An Analysis of State Involvement in Greenhouse Gas Litigation (January 31, 2012). Note, Vanderbilt Law Review, Vol. 65, No. 1, p. 189, 2012, Available at SSRN:

Caroline Cecot (Contact Author)

George Mason University - Antonin Scalia Law School, Faculty ( email )

3301 Fairfax Drive
Arlington, VA 22201
United States

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