“States rights” is a simple term fraught with grave political overtones in America. It’s not a stretch to say the Civil War was about states rights. The Jim Crow laws that followed were about states rights. Now, as a result of the decision by the putative president to abrogate the country’s commitment to the Paris climate accords, states rights is once again a rallying cry in American politics.
States Form United States Climate Alliance
Several states have decided to chart their own course in responding to the existential threat of climate change by forming the United States Climate Alliance. California, not surprisingly, is the leader of the pack.
It’s governor, Jerry Brown, has been steadfast in his abuse of Donald Trump, suggesting he is a pig-headed ignoramus who doesn’t understand the issues, can’t be bothered to read anything that is more than 142 characters in length, and has only the most passing familiarity with the English language. (See “covfefe.”) When in Europe recently for a meeting with NATO leaders, Trump could think of nothing else to say other than to complain about how hard it was for him to get permission to build more golf courses there.
Jerry Brown Lays It On The Line
Governor Brown has this to say about Donald The Dunderhead and his decision:
— Jerry Brown (@JerryBrownGov) June 1, 2017
Brown was joined by New York Governor Andrew Cuomo and Washington State Governor Jay Inslee to get the USCA off the ground, but those three states have quickly been joined by Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Oregon, Puerto Rico, Rhode Island, Vermont, and Virginia.
“We welcome these 10 new members and look forward to collaborating and maintaining the momentum in the global effort to protect our planet, while jump starting the clean energy economy,” governor Cuomo said in a statement.
Terry McAuliffe Adds His Voice
Terry McAuliffe, Governor of Virginia, made this announcement regarding his state’s participation: “As the first state in the Trump era to take executive action to limit carbon emissions and create clean energy jobs, Virginia is proud to join the Climate Alliance. If the federal government insists on abdicating leadership on this issue, it will be up to the American people to step forward — and in Virginia we are doing just that.” McAuliffe is facing bitter opposition from a Republican-controlled state legislature.
It is no coincidence that the attorneys general of both New York and Massachusetts are leading an investigation into whether ExxonMobil has lied to the public and the financial community about its knowledge of the damage caused by extracting and burning fossil fuels for decades.
United States Climate Alliance Mission
The US Climate Alliance members are pushing forward with measures designed to reduce carbon emissions within their states by up to 28% compared to 2005 levels. In doing so, they will meet or exceed the targets set forth in the Clean Power Plan put in place by the Obama administration.
The CPP was created by executive order to get around an intransigent Congress that refused for 8 years to cooperate in any manner with the Obama administration. Its existence was a key in the most recent election, as Trump used it as a bludgeon to stir up support from voters in the so-called Rust Belt states who felt they had been dissed by Obama and the Democrats.
Former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg is putting his money where his mouth is, according to Quartz, by pledging $15 million from the Bloomberg Foundation to help meet America’s financial obligations pursuant to the Paris climate change accords. “Americans will honor and fulfill the Paris Agreement by leading from the bottom up –and there isn’t anything Washington can do to stop us,” he says.
In all, more than 1000 mayors, governors, business leaders and other officials have banded together to support the Paris accords despite the decision by the portly potentate to dump the deal at the behest of the fossil fuel lobby.
States In Alliance Account For 30% Of GDP
The states who have already joined the US Climate Alliance account for more than 30% of America’s gross domestic product. More states are considering joining the Alliance, which would increase the financial clout they can wield to impact the US economy.
According to Quartz, despite the chest thumping and bleating about federal regulations coming from such Trumpian henchmen as Scott Pruitt, former attorney general of Oklahoma and now head of the EPA, more than 70% of all environmental regulations are imposed at the state or local level. That means the business community must pay close attention to what the members of the alliance do.
Just as automakers must toe the mark established by the California Air Resources Board because the Golden State is the largest new car market in the US, industries will need to be certain they comply with whatever provisions are put in place by members of the US Climate Alliance or risk losing a third or more of their potential customers.
Pushback By The Federal Government
For its part, the federal government has considerable power over the states. Those who refuse to kowtow to Washington run the risk of losing billions of federal dollars for such things as road construction, law enforcement, public education, and hundreds of other federal programs that Uncle Sugar funds.
That raises an interesting point. The citizens of the states that are part of the US Climate Alliance, in almost all cases, pay more in taxes to the IRS then they receive back in federal funds. The states that howl the loudest about political correctness, gay rights, abortion, background checks for gun purchases, and who can use what bathroom tend to be “taker” states. While complaining bitterly about the federal government, they are the states that suck the hardest on the public teat.
Breaking Up Is Hard To Do
Is there a possibility that all this drama could actually result in the US reorganizing itself into two, three, or more smaller countries? Yes, there certainly is. The idea of a Calexit movement — a splitting off of America’s western states into a new nation or joining Canada — began circulating as soon as the last election ended. For years, some political pundits have suggested that America is simply too large and too diverse to govern effectively.
Trump’s policies do seem to be splitting America apart and damaging its standing in the world community. Today, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson was treated to a parade of New Zealanders welcoming him to their country with extended middle fingers.
What Might Other Nations Do?
As Trump continues to alienate other nations, there is the possibility that they could resist his bizarre edicts by simply imposing a carbon tax on products manufactured in countries that are not parties to the Paris climate accords. That would certainly set the fox among the chickens, as America finds itself unable to sell it products in other markets.
Trump seems incapable of thinking more than one move ahead, when he thinks at all. He could be the catalyst that brings the long and troubled American experience to an end as individual states rethink their relationship to the federation and elect to reorder their priorities to serve the best interests of their citizens.