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Saturday, August 18, 2018

On Leaving Coal Emissions to the States: Implications for American Federalism

With the transportation (i.e., fuel) and power (i.e., coal) sectors accounting for a majority of the carbon emissions in the U.S., according to the EPA, the Trump administration’s moves to freeze his predecessor’s fuel efficiency standards and relax pollution rules for power plants needing renovation put at risk the declining trend of emissions in 2018. The implications for climate change (e.g., hotter summers) were stark, according to Janet McCabe, who had been Obama’s EPA air chief.[1] The Trump administration’s proposal to allow the states, including West Virginia, to set their own rules for regulating coal was, according to the New York Times, “the administration’s strongest and broadest effort yet to address what the president has long described as a regulatory ‘war on coal’.”[2] An implication is that carbon emissions from coal in the U.S. would likely increase as a result, even though large states like California and New York could be expected to tighten the rules. The interesting point about turning the regulations to the states revolves around federalism. Constitutionally speaking, should the states regulate the carbon emissions from coal?

The full essay is at "States Regulating Coal."

1. Lisa Friedman, “Trump’s Plan for Coal Emissions: Let Coal States Regulate Them,” The New York Times, August 18, 2018.
2. Ibid.