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Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

The battle between the Trump administration and California over climate policy further escalated on Wednesday.

Driving the news: The Justice Department, in a new lawsuit, alleges the state's emissions-trading system is an unconstitutional foray into the federal government's foreign affairs role thanks to the state's partnership with the Canadian province of Quebec.

  • Why it matters: Per Axios' Amy Harder, if the lawsuit succeeds, it could limit states’ abilities to collaborate with foreign countries on policies whose impacts don’t follow borders — like climate change.

One big question: Whether the move has any chance of success. Attorney David Bookbinder, a veteran of legal battles over global warming, called it "pure petty harassment" in an email exchange.

  • UCLA law professor Ann Carlson has a post on the school's LegalPlanet blog that argues DOJ's lawsuit is on shaky ground, and her colleague Cara Horowitz notes in a companion piece:
"[M]any good lawyers have been aware of these constitutional bounds from the get-go and have designed California’s program and its relationship with Quebec with these principles well in mind."

But, but, but: Jonathan Adler, a prominent conservative attorney with the Case Western Reserve University School of Law, said via Twitter that DOJ is presenting strong arguments.

  • "Whatever one thinks of DOJ's motivations in California lawsuits, concern for constitutionality of state-level climate agreements has been brewing for quite some time," he said.

The big picture: It's the latest move in the wider battle between the administration and California on climate and environmental policy. Other fronts include:

  • EPA has yanked California's Clean Air Act power to set carbon emissions limits for vehicles, a move already in litigation.
  • DOJ is also probing whether four automakers' voluntary agreement with California on emissions standards violates antitrust law.

Go deeper

58 mins ago - World

Iran agrees to resume Vienna nuclear talks in November

Ali Bagheri (R) with Enrique Mora in Tehran on Oct. 14. Photo: Iranian Foreign Ministry handout via Getty

Iran's new chief nuclear negotiator said following a meeting in Brussels on Wednesday that Iran would resume negotiations in Vienna before the end of November, with the exact date to be set next week.

Why it matters: The Vienna talks have been frozen since Iran's new hardline president, Ebrahim Raisi, was elected in June. This is the most direct commitment from Raisi's government to return to the negotiating table.

Dan Primack, author of Pro Rata
6 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Democrats' billionaires tax explained

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

There is now legislative language behind the push to tax American billionaires on unrealized capital gains, as Sen. Ron Wyden last night released his 107-page plan.

Why it matters: This would be a sea change in U.S. tax policy, which has only applied to realized gains (otherwise known as income).

COP26 head warns Glasgow summit will be "harder than Paris"

Alok Sharma, U.K. COP26 president, in Milan on Sept. 30, 2021. Photo: Stefano Guidi/Getty Images

U.K. COP26 President Alok Sharma told reporters Tuesday that the upcoming talks in Glasgow, widely viewed as the last chance to avoid some of the worst consequences of global warming, will be extremely difficult.

Driving the news: Sharma sought to temper expectations and note that the agenda features some of the toughest items that negotiators have punted on at previous summits.