Jeff Civins in Law360: Red-State Cities Face Uphill Battle To Keep Paris Pledge

06/06/2017

Law360, New York (June 6, 2017, 8:18 PM EDT) -- Scores of U.S. cities say they will honor the goals laid out by the Paris climate agreement despite President Donald Trump's vow to pull out of the deal, but cities in climate-policy-resistant Republican states won't have as much leeway to clamp down on greenhouse gas emissions as their blue-state counterparts, experts say.

As of Tuesday, 257 U.S. mayors had said their cities would “adopt, honor and uphold” the commitments of the Paris agreement, which legally binds 195 developed and developing countries to keeping average global temperature increases well below 2 degrees Celsius above preindustrial levels. That number is poised to drop to 194 with Trump's announcement last week that the U.S. would exit the deal.

However, that might not be so easy for cities in red states that share Trump's hostility toward climate change measures and wield authority over major energy and environmental regulations, experts say.

One need look no further than Texas, where the Paris pledges of Dallas, Houston and Austin will pit those cities against a state government that has fought in court virtually every climate-related regulation put out by former President Barack Obama's administration — including the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's rules limiting greenhouse gas emissions from power plants — and that applauded Trump's decision to exit the Paris deal.

"The state has made it clear that it doesn't want to go beyond the EPA when it comes to regulating greenhouse gas emissions,” said Haynes and Boone LLP senior environmental counsel Jeff Civins, who is based in Austin and teaches environmental litigation at the University of Texas Law School. “The ability of cities to fulfill the Paris goals will be limited.”

Excerpted from Law360. To view the full article click here (subscription required).

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