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Home    |   Currents   |   Climate Change

Climate Change

Networked Federalism: Subnational Governments in the Biden Era

Subnational governments, working with non-governmental advocates, drove climate action during the Trump administration while rebuffing federal rollbacks. Under the Biden administration, focus may initially shift towards the federal government, but the subnational network is critical to continued progress on climate change. I use the term “networked federalism” to describe how a horizontal, interconnected, and polycentric collection of states, local governments, Tribes, and advocates provides the resilient frame needed to buttress national action. Indeed, this structure mirrors the successful structure of the Paris Agreement —in which international action depends on subsidiary national contributions. A networked, federalist system of subnational climate action will be critical to continuing success, and should be nurtured and expanded. In this article, I discuss barriers to federal climate action under the Biden administration, trace the important role of subnationals in the climate movement, and lay out a policy agenda for strengthening subnational networks over the next four years.

Mar 12, 2021
Craig Holt Segall

Colluding to Save the World: How Antitrust Laws Discourage Corporations from Taking Action on Climate Change

“The loftiest of purported motivations do not excuse anti-competitive collusion among rivals. That’s long-standing antitrust law.” So begins a USA Today opinion piece by Makan Delrahim, Assistant Attorney General and head of the Antitrust Division. Delrahim was defending a Department of Justice (DOJ) investigation into four major automakers who had recently announced they would continue to meet California’s fuel efficiency standards even as the Trump Administration moved to roll back higher efficiency standards at the federal level. The agreement between the automakers will likely lead to higher prices for consumers, which—regardless of other positive benefits—could be illegal under antitrust law. But should it be?

Jul 27, 2020
Paul Balmer

The New(Clear?) Electricity Federalism: Federal Preemption of States’ “Zero Emissions Credit” Programs

Joel B. Eisen* Two pending federal appellate cases involving Illinois and New York laws, Old Mill Creek v. Star and Coalition For Competitive Electricity v. Zibelman respectively,[1] involve the conflict between federal authority over the electric grid and state laws supporting nuclear power plants. The issues are nearly identical in both cases.[2] In Illinois, New

Apr 27, 2018
Paul Balmer

The Electric Grid Confronts the Dormant Commerce Clause

by Sam Kalen & Steven Weissman Many modern energy dialogues gravitate toward a conversation about the present status of the jurisdictional divide between state and federal authority over the regulation of wholesale sales of energy.  A March 3, 2017 Bureau of National Affairs (BNA) article began by observing how the utility industry believes the biggest

Apr 17, 2018
Paul Balmer