Free Minds & Free Markets

In the Age of Trump, Liberals Have Rediscovered the Value of Federalism: New at Reason

California might end up asking conservative judges to strike down federal rules for vehicle emissions.

Fabrizio Bensch/REUTERS/NewscomFabrizio Bensch/REUTERS/NewscomCould California's liberal Democratic attorney general end up asking conservative justices on the U.S. Supreme Court to strike down the federal Clean Air Act as an unconstitutional infringement on states' rights?

It sure looks as though things are headed in that direction.

Anti-pollution laws—particularly the standards for automobile emissions—are the latest area where, because of the Trump administration, the left is discovering anew the advantages of devolving authority to state and local governments.

Auto emissions became the newest and perhaps the most heated front in the federalism fight earlier this month when the federal Environmental Protection Agency announced a "Make Cars Great Again" proposal. Part of that plan involves withdrawing a waiver the federal government had granted in 2013 that had allowed California to impose stricter emissions standards on new cars sold in the Golden State.

Why, you might wonder, does California even need to ask permission from Washington to impose such stricter standards? Why can't the state simply impose them on its own, without begging Washington for an okay, asks Ira Stoll.

Photo Credit: Fabrizio Bensch/REUTERS/Newscom


Get Reason's print or digital edition before it’s posted online