Defending the Planet Ep2: The Power of States

Defending the Planet Ep2: The Power of States


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In the absence of federal legislative action, states and even cities are moving to fight climate change – individually and in regional alliances – while other states sit out. When California announced last year that it will end sales of gas-powered vehicles by 2035, a dozen other states followed suit. Now, seeking to undo four years of environmental deregulation, the Biden administration is pressing for climate action. What happens to the state-federal dynamic when the federal executive branch shifts its position on climate change?

Former Montana Gov. Steve Bullock ’94 and Professor Jessica Bulman-Pozen join host Michael B. Gerrard to discuss what states can – and cannot – achieve in preventing climate change.

Episode Details

Released: June 9, 2021

Length: 31:00


Photo of Steve Bullock '94

Steve Bullock ’94 served as Montana’s 24th governor, from 2013 to 2021. He was also Montana’s attorney general from 2009 to 2013. Prior to serving in elected office, Bullock was Montana’s assistant attorney general, an attorney in private practice, and an adjunct professor at George Washington University Law School.

As Montana attorney general, Bullock defended the state’s 100-year ban on corporate campaign spending, gaining national prominence for leading the challenge to the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision. As governor he worked to improve access to health care, keep dark money out of state elections, make investments in education, protect access to public lands, invest in infrastructure, and strengthen Montana’s economy. Bullock was elected chair of the National Governors Association, Western Governors Association, and Democratic Governors Association.

Bullock was born in Missoula, Montana, and received an undergraduate degree from Claremont McKenna College and a J.D. from Columbia Law School. Bullock and his wife, Lisa, have three children: Caroline, Alexandria, and Cameron.

Photo of Jessica Bulman-Pozen

Jessica Bulman-Pozen is Betts Professor of Law and a director of the Center for Constitutional Governance at Columbia Law School. An expert on administrative law and constitutional law, she has written extensively about federalism, including “Federalism as a Safeguard of the Separation of Powers,” “Partisan Federalism,” “Executive Federalism Comes to America,” and “Administrative States: Beyond Presidential Administration.” In 2015, the graduating class honored her with the Willis L.M. Reese Prize for Excellence in Teaching.

Before joining the Columbia faculty, Bulman-Pozen served as an attorney-adviser in the U.S. Department of Justice’s Office of Legal Counsel and as a law clerk to Justice John Paul Stevens of the U.S. Supreme Court and Judge Merrick B. Garland of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit.

Hosted By:

Photo of Michael B. Gerrard

Michael B. Gerrard, Andrew Sabin Professor of Professional Practice, is the founder and faculty director of the Sabin Center for Climate Change Law. He writes and teaches courses on environmental law, climate change law, and energy regulation. He was the chair of the faculty of Columbia University’s Earth Institute from 2015 to 2018. Before joining the Columbia Law School faculty in 2009, Gerrard practiced environmental law full-time for 30 years, most recently as the partner in charge of the New York office of Arnold & Porter, where he remains senior counsel. He tried cases and argued appeals in federal and state courts and administrative tribunals. Gerrard has written or edited more than a dozen books, including Legal Pathways to Deep Decarbonization in the United States (co-edited with John Dernbach). He is the former chair of the American Bar Association’s Section of Environment, Energy, and Resources. He also has chaired the New York State Bar Association’s environmental law section.


Energy and Utilities Law | Energy Policy | Environmental Law | Environmental Policy | Law | State and Local Government Law

Defending the Planet Ep2: The Power of States