The New Front in the Clean Air Wars: Fossil-Fuel Influence Over State Attorneys General — And How It Might Be Checked
27 Pages Posted: 3 Mar 2017 Last revised: 1 Jan 2018
Date Written: March 1, 2017
This piece provides a Review of two recent books — Richard Revesz and Jack Lienke’s Struggling for Air: Power Plants and the “War on Coal,” and Paul Nolette’s Federalism on Trial: State Attorneys General and National Policymaking in Contemporary America. Read together, those books offer a thorough history of the Clean Air Act and show how that law has been made more effective, in part, through the efforts of state attorneys general (AGs).
The fossil-fuel industry, however, has begun pouring unprecedented sums of money into AG races throughout the country. That spending has apparently paid off. AGs across the country have, in recent years, allied with fossil-fuel interests in an attempt to fight environmental regulations. This regulatory capture of many AGs seems likely to impede environmental regulation for years to come.
The Supreme Court’s recent decision in Williams-Yulee v. the Florida Bar, however, offers at least a theoretical possibility that targeted campaign-finance laws geared toward AGs could pass constitutional muster. Such laws, if enacted, could help check the significant influence fossil-fuel interests — as well as other big-money interests — now enjoy over AGs.
Keywords: State Attorneys General, Clean Air Act, Fossil-Fuel Industry, Campaign Finance, First Amendment, EPA, Environment, Power Plants, Environmental Regulation
JEL Classification: K32
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation