US Federal government drops legal challenge to California cap-and-trade linkage

SAN FRANCISCO, 22 April – IETA welcomes the Biden administration’s decision to drop its challenge in the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals to the state of California’s cap-and-trade program’s linkage with Quebec.

A US District court last year ruled that the Western Climate Initiative – representing the linked carbon markets of California and Quebec – does not unconstitutionally conflict with the federal government’s treaty authority nor the Foreign Affairs Doctrine, which claims were based on its earlier decision to withdraw from the Paris Agreement.

The US Federal government at the time appealed the decision, and today’s move by the Biden administration brings the challenge to a close.

“IETA welcomes the administration’s dismissal of the previous administration’s baseless appeal of this novel constitutional case, as it is fully consistent with rejoining the Paris Agreement,” said Nico van Aelstyn, a partner at Sheppard Mullin who represented IETA in the case.

“The well-reasoned decisions of the district court now stand as the law of the case; any future administration would be barred from bringing such a challenge against California’s linkage with Quebec,” he added.

“The case thus serves as an important legal precedent supporting the linkages of emission markets across jurisdictions, both subnational and international. Market tools of this kind are critical to addressing the climate crisis.”

IETA acted as an intervenor defendant in the case and is a party to the stipulation by which the appeal will be dismissed.