Governor Brown to West Virginia and Texas Attorneys General on Climate Change: “Crass Obstructionism is Not a Solution”


SACRAMENTO – One week before he travels to Paris for the United Nations Conference on Climate Change, Governor Edmund G. Brown Jr. today blasted West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey and Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton for “crass obstructionism” following their latest attempt to undermine the Obama administration’s Clean Power Plan and America’s role in upcoming climate change negotiations in Paris.

In recent months, Governor Brown sent a letter to the Republican presidential candidates asking for their plans to deal with climate change and followed with a separate letter to Dr. Ben Carson in response to his comments questioning the science of climate change. Earlier this month, Governor Brown joined a broad coalition of states and municipalities across the country to defend the Obama Administration’s Clean Power Plan.

The complete text of Governor Brown’s letter, sent today to both attorneys general with individual flash drives, is copied below:

November 25, 2015

Patrick Morrisey
Attorney General
State of West Virginia
208 Capitol Street
Charleston, WV 25301

Ken Paxton
Attorney General
State of Texas
300 W. 15th Street
Austin, TX 78701

Dear Attorneys General Morrisey and Paxton,

It’s come to my attention that you penned a letter this week to U.S. Secretary of State John F. Kerry and copied top officials in the United States, French, Chinese, German, Indian, Russian and British governments seeking to undermine climate action here in America and abroad, ahead of the United Nations Conference on Climate Change. The missive argued, in part:

“The President’s representations regarding his Administration’s CO2 emission reduction plans are based on unilateral executive action that is unlikely to be the law for very long. The Power Plan – which was never voted on by Congress – has been under withering scrutiny from both Republicans and Democrats since it was proposed, and the chorus calling for its overturning grows by the day…We respect the President’s power and discretion to negotiate international agreements with foreign nations. But there are significant legal limits on his ability either to carry out the promises he has made in advance of Paris 2015 or to enforce any agreement arising out of the summit.”

Frankly, your thoughts here are, at best, legally flimsy. At worst, you’re sending a dangerous message to the world: on climate change, do nothing.

I write to you today as a former California attorney general, current governor and fellow citizen of the United States to state unequivocally that you do not speak for me. You do not speak for California. You do not speak for the other cities, counties and states across America that stand firmly with the President and have intervened to defend the Clean Power Plan. And you certainly do not speak for the dozens of regions, states, provinces, cities, and even countries across the globe – with a combined GDP larger than that of the United States – which have joined California this year and committed to taking significant and bold action. We have all done so by signing the Under 2 MOU climate agreement.

Together, we strongly support the President’s efforts to secure a lasting international agreement on climate change in Paris.

We are also confident that the courts will uphold the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s authority to regulate greenhouse gas emissions from power plants. These rules provide broad flexibility to states – including West Virginia and Texas – to tailor compliance plans. And as you know, on three separate occasions, the Supreme Court has upheld the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s power to regulate greenhouse gas emissions.

But let’s not lose sight of the bigger picture. Climate change is about much more than courtrooms and legal briefs. It’s about our health, our economy and our future.

To that end, please find enclosed a flash drive with the complete “Climate Change Impacts in the United States: The Third National Climate Assessment” report. This report was produced by a team of more than 300 experts and scientists guided by a 60-member Federal Advisory Committee and reviewed extensively by members of the public and outstanding scientists, as well as by key federal agencies and a panel of the National Academy of Sciences.

While I encourage you to read all 841 pages, you’ll see that the report includes convenient, digestible summaries of climate impacts by region. It finds that in much of Texas, for example, “rising temperatures are leading to increased demand for water and energy” and in West Virginia, “more intense precipitation events will mean greater flood risk, particularly in valleys, where people, infrastructure, and agriculture tend to be concentrated.”

I am attaching this report not just because it is educational, but because its findings demand leadership and action. Here in California, where we face the dual threat of a prolonged drought and severe winter storms – exacerbated by a rapidly changing climate – we don’t have the luxury of playing politics on this important issue. The costs of inaction are too high.

Political expediency and legal obfuscation won’t cut it. Crass obstructionism is not a solution.


Edmund G. Brown Jr.