Group of AGs Urge Kerry-Graham-Lieberman to Not Preempt State Authorities on Climate

by Ben Somberg

April 07, 2010

Seven state attorneys general have written a letter this week, released today, urging senators Kerry, Graham, and Lieberman to retain key state authorities on combating climate change in their upcoming bill (The Hill, National Journal). The letter, from the AGs of California, Delaware, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Rhode Island and Vermont, follows two recent letters (see ClimateWire, subs. required) from 14 senators and from 14 state environmental protection agencies that called for some similar steps. (Update: And here's an April 7 letter to KGL from the National Association of Clean Air Agencies).

The attorneys general write:

"... federal climate legislation that builds on, and works in conjunction with, existing and ongoing State initiatives is not only consistent with a long-established model of federal and State partnership, but will also create a robust and effective legislative scheme that will maximize environmental and economic benefits. Indeed, the great majority of federal environmental statutes allow States to adopt standards and requirements that are more stringent than federal law. For more than 40 years, this model has worked effectively to improve the nation’s environment, protect public health and welfare, and stimulate innovation through creative state experimentation."

Last week William Buzbee laid out some of the key arguments in favor of not preempting state and local authorities on climate change.

More from the AGs after the jump.

"... States have adopted emission targets and caps, automobile emission standards, low carbon and renewable fuel standards, renewable electricity portfolio standards, electricity generation emission performance standards, climate action plans, land use measures, reporting requirements, building and appliance efficiency standards, and labeling mandates. These programs foster innovation, save energy, create jobs, improve local air quality, generate revenue and produce consumer benefits, in addition to reducing global warming pollution."


"There is simply no substantive basis to terminate such positive impacts and abandon RGGI and other similar initiatives at least until a national system is established and achieving equivalent or better results. Moreover, it is unknown whether measures that may be adopted through federal legislation now will fully resolve the problem and thereby eliminate the need for further measures in the future. Keeping State initiatives viable – and, at most, imposing a temporary moratorium for a fixed period of time – would provide a valuable incentive to ensure rigorous implementation and enforcement of the federal program."


"... any temporary moratorium of State or regional initiatives should be narrowly tailored and limited to apply solely to State cap and trade regulations so that States’ non-cap and trade climate-related regulations (of both stationary sources and motor vehicles) remain in force and continue to achieve the wide ranging benefits they are producing."


"For all these reasons, we strongly urge that any federal climate and energy bill should preserve the State-federal partnership that has functioned successfully over the years, and explicitly protects States’ authority to continue to adopt and implement climate-related measures to complement and enhance the benefits of federal law."

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