State and Local Climate Change Initiatives: What is Motivating State and Local Governments to Address a Global Problem and What Does this Say About Federalism and Environmental Law?
Urban Lawyer, Vol. 38, p. 1015, 2006
18 Pages Posted: 2 Oct 2006
The current status of climate change policy represents something of a federalism role reversal in environmental law. Rather than the federal government playing the dominant role of establishing standards and ground rules for regulatory programs, it is the state governments that are actively pursuing programs to reduce emissions of greenhouse gases and sequester carbon while the federal government has adopted a nonregulatory, and, many would argue, a do-very-little approach. In this essay, Kirsten Engel probes why states are addressing a global problem such as climate change and what will be the long-term significance of the states' activities, both in terms of the nation's response to climate change and for the structure of federalism in environmental law. She concludes that there are numerous motivations for state and local action, illustrating the multidimensional nature of climate policy. She contends that the long-term significance of state and local action may be in its capacity to trigger federal greenhouse gas regulation or to encourage international diplomatic efforts to address climate change.
Keywords: environmental law, climate change, federalism, state government, federal government, motivation for local action, California, regional
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