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In Washington, D.C., the “Green New Deal” may be nothing more than a symbolic, Twitter-friendly legislative campaign with no real hope of adoption. But in New York, it is the new legal reality. The efforts of sub-national governments - like New York’s - to tackle widespread environmental harms, in particular climate change, have drawn increased media and scholarly attention since the United States declared its intention to withdraw from the Paris Agreement. In truth, the trend towards so-called “environmental federalism” predates the election of President Donald J. Trump. We are ushering in the next generation of environmental laws, and those laws will largely be authored by state and local officials. Where do these lawmakers look for guidance on bill language to properly address perhaps the most complex environmental challenge of our time? This work aims to draw attention to the imbalance in model lawmaking caused by the forces aligned against climate action. It then examines the growing resources facilitating proactive climate change law at the state and local levels. In doing so, the work also provides a taxonomy of such law-promoting mechanisms. Finally, it asks how well this model law ecosystem fits with the principles of federalism in the context of the evolving environmental legal landscape, ultimately concluding that more balance would counteract the distortion of democracy caused by the current situation.

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University of Richmond Law Review



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