United States: California Holds Fast To GHG Reduction In The Face Of The Trump Administration

Last Updated: June 23 2017
Article by Robert L. Hines

The inauguration of Donald J. Trump as the 45th President of the United States on January 20, 2017, brought with it levels of angst and concern not felt for some time within the environmental community. While some welcome the notion of "regulatory reform" that was the hallmark of the Trump campaign and that has formed the framework for President Trump's first 100 days in office, others, particularly among governmental leaders in California, have vowed to fight legislative and regulatory reform, and to respond forcefully to executive orders flowing from the White House.

Just prior to the November 2016 election, California passed Senate Bill 32 (SB 32) and Assembly Bill 197 (AB 197) (codified at, respectively, Cal. Health & Safety Code § 38566 and Cal. Health & Safety Code §§ 38506, 38531, 38562.5, 38562.7, 39510, 39607 and Cal. Gov't Code § 9147.10, et seq.), which continued California on its required objective to cut greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by at least 40 percent below 1990 levels by 2030. The reductions were identified by California Governor Jerry Brown's office at the time as the most ambitious reduction goals in North America. The basis for these reductions was set out in the landmark California Global Warming Solutions Act of 2006, Assembly Bill 32 (AB 32) (codified at Cal. Health & Safety Code § 38500, et seq.).

So where do California and other like-minded states go from here in the context of targeted reduction of GHGs and providing incentives for the development of sources of alternative energy? Has the president, as some suggest, signed Earth's "death warrant" by issuing executive orders in late March directing the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to "rework" its Clean Power Plan, ordering the Department of Interior to lift its current moratorium on federal coal leasing and loosening restrictions on oil and gas development (including methane flaring) on federal lands, and instructing all federal agencies to stop factoring climate change into the environmental-review process for federal projects (with the federal government recalculating the "social cost of carbon")? (See, e.g., White House, Presidential Executive Order on Promoting Energy Independence and Economic Growth (Mar. 28, 2017).) As discussed below, California has responded in a number of coordinated and related ways to the Trump administration's efforts to roll back regulations. Indeed, California's Attorney General Xavier Becerra was quoted as saying California will continue "pushing the envelope" on environmental quality and taking action on climate change. (See Law360, California AG Promises to Battle Trump on Enviro Issues, Mar. 30, 2017.)

First and foremost, California will continue to push toward a 40 percent reduction in GHG emissions by 2030, and toward 80 percent by 2050. California has been joined by other states to reduce GHGs: among them New York, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Iowa, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Mexico, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, and the District of Columbia. The federal basis to regulate GHGs stems, of course, from EPA's endangerment finding regarding the threat posed by carbon dioxide and other GHGs, which followed the U.S. Supreme Court's ruling in 2007 in Massachusetts v. EPA, 549 U.S. 497 (2007).

California has also stayed firm on strict emissions standards for cars and trucks, exemplified in late March by the California Air Resources Board unanimous vote to maintain the state's 2025 limits on goals for zero-emission vehicle sales through 2030 (at 15 percent of total sales by 2025), and to nearly double the average fuel economy of new cars and trucks by 2025 to 54.5 miles per gallon. (See, e.g., State of Cal. Air Resources Bd.,  Advanced Clean Cars Midterm Review (Mar. 24, 2017).) The transportation sector accounts for around 40 percent of GHG emissions, so targeting this sector is seen as crucial by the Air Resources Board and the governor's office. (See Cal. Envtl. Protection Agency, California Greenhouse Gas Emission Inventory—2016 Edition (June 17, 2016).) California's Low Carbon Fuel Standard also plays an important role in addressing GHG emissions from the transportation sector. California's long-standing waiver to create its own automotive and truck standards derives from the federal Clean Air Act (42 U.S.C. § 7401, et seq.), and whether the Trump administration attempts to follow the (ultimately unsuccessful) Bush administration's effort in 2007 to reject a waiver application from California remains to be seen.

Another pillar of California's climate action plan involves what have been termed "short-lived climate pollutants" or "super pollutants"— climate pollutants other than carbon dioxide such as methane, fluoronated gases including hydrofluorocarbons, and black carbon. In contrast to the Trump administration's rollback of oil and gas regulations on federal lands, California, through the Air Resources Board, approved methane emission limits on the oil and gas sector to be phased in between 2018 and 2020, to reduce emissions from the sector by 1.4 million metric tons of equivalent carbon dioxide annually. (See, e.g., Cal. Envtl. Protection Agency, CARB Approves Rule for Monitoring and Repairing Methane Leaks from Oil and Gas Facilities (Mar. 23, 2017).) With estimates of $50 million worth of "wasted" gas every year due to leaky equipment, the requirements will attempt to curb methane leaks from existing facilities, and to prevent (or minimize) the type of catastrophic leak that occurred from late 2015 to early 2016 at Southern California's Aliso Canyon natural gas storage field. The new limits are expected to cost the industry over $27 million annually, before savings in natural gas releases are factored in. (See Carolyn Whetzel, California Methane Rule First Stab at Climate "Super Pollutants," 32 Toxic L. Rep. (BNA) 353 (Mar. 30, 2017).)

And as a further response to the ongoing rollback of environmental, natural resources, and public health protections from Washington, D.C., California also recently introduced three proposed bills: Senate Bills 49, 50, and 51. SB 49 would render federal environmental standards enforceable under state law; SB 50 would establish a policy to discourage the transfer of federal public land in California to owners other than the federal government; and, SB 51 proposes additional whistleblower protections for federal employees working in the environmental sciences and climate change-related fields.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

To print this article, all you need is to be registered on Mondaq.com.

Click to Login as an existing user or Register so you can print this article.

In association with
Related Topics
Related Articles
Related Video
Up-coming Events Search
Font Size:
Mondaq on Twitter
Register for Access and our Free Biweekly Alert for
This service is completely free. Access 250,000 archived articles from 100+ countries and get a personalised email twice a week covering developments (and yes, our lawyers like to think you’ve read our Disclaimer).
Email Address
Company Name
Confirm Password
Mondaq Topics -- Select your Interests
 Law Performance
 Law Practice
 Media & IT
 Real Estate
 Wealth Mgt
Asia Pacific
European Union
Latin America
Middle East
United States
Worldwide Updates
Registration (you must scroll down to set your data preferences)

Mondaq Ltd requires you to register and provide information that personally identifies you, including your content preferences, for three primary purposes (full details of Mondaq’s use of your personal data can be found in our Privacy and Cookies Notice):

  • To allow you to personalize the Mondaq websites you are visiting to show content ("Content") relevant to your interests.
  • To enable features such as password reminder, news alerts, email a colleague, and linking from Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to your website.
  • To produce demographic feedback for our content providers ("Contributors") who contribute Content for free for your use.

Mondaq hopes that our registered users will support us in maintaining our free to view business model by consenting to our use of your personal data as described below.

Mondaq has a "free to view" business model. Our services are paid for by Contributors in exchange for Mondaq providing them with access to information about who accesses their content. Once personal data is transferred to our Contributors they become a data controller of this personal data. They use it to measure the response that their articles are receiving, as a form of market research. They may also use it to provide Mondaq users with information about their products and services.

Details of each Contributor to which your personal data will be transferred is clearly stated within the Content that you access. For full details of how this Contributor will use your personal data, you should review the Contributor’s own Privacy Notice.

Please indicate your preference below:

Yes, I am happy to support Mondaq in maintaining its free to view business model by agreeing to allow Mondaq to share my personal data with Contributors whose Content I access
No, I do not want Mondaq to share my personal data with Contributors

Also please let us know whether you are happy to receive communications promoting products and services offered by Mondaq:

Yes, I am happy to received promotional communications from Mondaq
No, please do not send me promotional communications from Mondaq
Terms & Conditions

Mondaq.com (the Website) is owned and managed by Mondaq Ltd (Mondaq). Mondaq grants you a non-exclusive, revocable licence to access the Website and associated services, such as the Mondaq News Alerts (Services), subject to and in consideration of your compliance with the following terms and conditions of use (Terms). Your use of the Website and/or Services constitutes your agreement to the Terms. Mondaq may terminate your use of the Website and Services if you are in breach of these Terms or if Mondaq decides to terminate the licence granted hereunder for any reason whatsoever.

Use of www.mondaq.com

To Use Mondaq.com you must be: eighteen (18) years old or over; legally capable of entering into binding contracts; and not in any way prohibited by the applicable law to enter into these Terms in the jurisdiction which you are currently located.

You may use the Website as an unregistered user, however, you are required to register as a user if you wish to read the full text of the Content or to receive the Services.

You may not modify, publish, transmit, transfer or sell, reproduce, create derivative works from, distribute, perform, link, display, or in any way exploit any of the Content, in whole or in part, except as expressly permitted in these Terms or with the prior written consent of Mondaq. You may not use electronic or other means to extract details or information from the Content. Nor shall you extract information about users or Contributors in order to offer them any services or products.

In your use of the Website and/or Services you shall: comply with all applicable laws, regulations, directives and legislations which apply to your Use of the Website and/or Services in whatever country you are physically located including without limitation any and all consumer law, export control laws and regulations; provide to us true, correct and accurate information and promptly inform us in the event that any information that you have provided to us changes or becomes inaccurate; notify Mondaq immediately of any circumstances where you have reason to believe that any Intellectual Property Rights or any other rights of any third party may have been infringed; co-operate with reasonable security or other checks or requests for information made by Mondaq from time to time; and at all times be fully liable for the breach of any of these Terms by a third party using your login details to access the Website and/or Services

however, you shall not: do anything likely to impair, interfere with or damage or cause harm or distress to any persons, or the network; do anything that will infringe any Intellectual Property Rights or other rights of Mondaq or any third party; or use the Website, Services and/or Content otherwise than in accordance with these Terms; use any trade marks or service marks of Mondaq or the Contributors, or do anything which may be seen to take unfair advantage of the reputation and goodwill of Mondaq or the Contributors, or the Website, Services and/or Content.

Mondaq reserves the right, in its sole discretion, to take any action that it deems necessary and appropriate in the event it considers that there is a breach or threatened breach of the Terms.

Mondaq’s Rights and Obligations

Unless otherwise expressly set out to the contrary, nothing in these Terms shall serve to transfer from Mondaq to you, any Intellectual Property Rights owned by and/or licensed to Mondaq and all rights, title and interest in and to such Intellectual Property Rights will remain exclusively with Mondaq and/or its licensors.

Mondaq shall use its reasonable endeavours to make the Website and Services available to you at all times, but we cannot guarantee an uninterrupted and fault free service.

Mondaq reserves the right to make changes to the services and/or the Website or part thereof, from time to time, and we may add, remove, modify and/or vary any elements of features and functionalities of the Website or the services.

Mondaq also reserves the right from time to time to monitor your Use of the Website and/or services.


The Content is general information only. It is not intended to constitute legal advice or seek to be the complete and comprehensive statement of the law, nor is it intended to address your specific requirements or provide advice on which reliance should be placed. Mondaq and/or its Contributors and other suppliers make no representations about the suitability of the information contained in the Content for any purpose. All Content provided "as is" without warranty of any kind. Mondaq and/or its Contributors and other suppliers hereby exclude and disclaim all representations, warranties or guarantees with regard to the Content, including all implied warranties and conditions of merchantability, fitness for a particular purpose, title and non-infringement. To the maximum extent permitted by law, Mondaq expressly excludes all representations, warranties, obligations, and liabilities arising out of or in connection with all Content. In no event shall Mondaq and/or its respective suppliers be liable for any special, indirect or consequential damages or any damages whatsoever resulting from loss of use, data or profits, whether in an action of contract, negligence or other tortious action, arising out of or in connection with the use of the Content or performance of Mondaq’s Services.


Mondaq may alter or amend these Terms by amending them on the Website. By continuing to Use the Services and/or the Website after such amendment, you will be deemed to have accepted any amendment to these Terms.

These Terms shall be governed by and construed in accordance with the laws of England and Wales and you irrevocably submit to the exclusive jurisdiction of the courts of England and Wales to settle any dispute which may arise out of or in connection with these Terms. If you live outside the United Kingdom, English law shall apply only to the extent that English law shall not deprive you of any legal protection accorded in accordance with the law of the place where you are habitually resident ("Local Law"). In the event English law deprives you of any legal protection which is accorded to you under Local Law, then these terms shall be governed by Local Law and any dispute or claim arising out of or in connection with these Terms shall be subject to the non-exclusive jurisdiction of the courts where you are habitually resident.

You may print and keep a copy of these Terms, which form the entire agreement between you and Mondaq and supersede any other communications or advertising in respect of the Service and/or the Website.

No delay in exercising or non-exercise by you and/or Mondaq of any of its rights under or in connection with these Terms shall operate as a waiver or release of each of your or Mondaq’s right. Rather, any such waiver or release must be specifically granted in writing signed by the party granting it.

If any part of these Terms is held unenforceable, that part shall be enforced to the maximum extent permissible so as to give effect to the intent of the parties, and the Terms shall continue in full force and effect.

Mondaq shall not incur any liability to you on account of any loss or damage resulting from any delay or failure to perform all or any part of these Terms if such delay or failure is caused, in whole or in part, by events, occurrences, or causes beyond the control of Mondaq. Such events, occurrences or causes will include, without limitation, acts of God, strikes, lockouts, server and network failure, riots, acts of war, earthquakes, fire and explosions.

By clicking Register you state you have read and agree to our Terms and Conditions