William & Mary Environmental Law and Policy Review
Diagonal Federalism: How States Should Respond to Inconsistent Federal Climate Change Mitigation Policy
This Note will argue that diagonal federalism—a model of governance in which states partner with one another and local governments to pursue shared policy goals—is an ideal response to inconsistent climate change mitigation policy by the Federal Government. Part I provides an overview of the foundations of American environmental policy, how that policy is predicated on federal-state partnership, and the historical precedent for state-led action on climate change mitigation policy. Part II discusses how and why federal environmental policy, and by extension, federal climate change mitigation policy, has been so inconsistent. Part III illustrates how collaboration between the Federal Government and the states is possible but remains rare with respect to climate change mitigation policy. Part IV proposes diagonal federalism as an alternative course of action for states in lieu of cooperation with the Federal Government. While there are important legal and practical limitations to this approach, it remains the most viable alternative to states as they grapple with an unreliable partner in the Federal Government.
This abstract has been adapted from the author's introduction.