Currently viewing the tag: "fuel efficiency standards"

Governor Gregoire announced today that she will take legal action against the Bush Administration’s rejection of Washington State’s Clean Car Legislation passed earlier this year.

Governor Gregoire said that she has “requested our Attorney General file in support of California’s challenge to this decision as soon as possible.”

As the Washington Post reported earlier, California Governor Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger immediately announced his intention to fight President Bush’s EPA’s decision that was released yesterday.

It is completely absurd to assert that California does not have a compelling need to fight global warming by curbing greenhouse gas emissions from cars,” California Attorney General Jerry Brown said. “There is absolutely no legal justification for the Bush administration to deny this request _ Gov. Schwarzenegger and I are preparing to sue at the earliest possible moment.”

The Associated Press reports that Oregon Governor Ted Kulongoski will also join in any legal action.

Today’s decision by the EPA is very disappointing for Oregon and our efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions that lead to global warming,” Kulongoski said. But he said it “does not diminish my commitment to combat climate change and I will move forward with any legal or administrative means necessary to make sure Oregon can set its own tailpipe emission standards.”

Also according to the Washington Post Maryland will join any legal action initiated. Maryland’s Attorney General Douglas Gansler said

Maryland officials want to join any litigation filed by officials in California, who have said they are preparing a lawsuit.
“We feel like we’re on strong legal ground to bring this suit,” Gansler said in a telephone interview yesterday. “There’s no legal justification for them [the EPA] to deny the request.”

The tailpipe standards California adopted in 2004 would have forced automakers to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 30 percent in new cars and light trucks by 2016, with the cutbacks beginning in the 2009 model year.

On Wednesday, Bush’s EPA Administrator denied California’s request for a waiver under the US Clean Air Act so they could implement stronger measures to clean up car pollution contributing to global warming and pollution. Washington’ State’s Clean Car Legislation would go into effect when California’s did and would follow California’s standards. Fifteen states in addition to Washington have passed legislation to enact the proposed California standards.

The states that sued the EPA in November to grant a waiver for stricter standards based on California’s proposed standards included, in addition to California, Arizona, Connecticut, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Rhode Island, Vermont, Oregon and Washington.

The Environmental Protection Agency has continued oilman Bush’s reactionary campaign against those working to reduce global warming. Wednesday, Bush’s EPA denied a waiver to California allowed under the Clean Air Act to set its own vehicle emission standards. The action thwarts efforts by 17 states, including Washington State, to set stronger fuel efficiency standards for vehicles than that of Congress. See also NY Times

Anyone who thinks Bush has had a recent change of mind or heart regarding his past efforts opposing strong actions to reduce global carbon dioxide is mistaken. George Bush is still a corporate oilman at heart; and profit, not the future of the earth is his God. For all of Bush’s professed religious righteousness, it seems he has forgotten some of his God’s admonitions to
provide wise stewardship of the earth.

Bush opposed until the bitter end the energy legislation just passed by Congress to raise fuel efficiency standards for vehicles. He and his fellow Republicans in the US Senate weakened the legislation passed by forcing removal of provisions that would have shifted some $13 billion in tax breaks from the oil industry to renewable energy programs. Also removed were provisions calling on states to institute a goal of achieving 15% of the their energy being generated by renewable energy.

In the Washington Post today Bush is quoted as saying, “The question is how to have an effective strategy. Is it more effective to let each state make a decision as to how to proceed in curbing greenhouse gases or is it more effective to have a national strategy

The fact is that we have only one state making a decision – California and that they want to implement fuel efficiency standards faster and tougher than what Congress passed. The other 16 states say they want to implement what California does. The Clean Air Act says they can do that.

Senator Barbara Boxer on the News Hour with Jim Lehrer tonight noted that the just passed energy bill mandating Federal fuel efficiency standards explicitly stated that nothing in the Act diminished the right of states under the Federal Clean Air Act to set higher state standards for air quality.

Senator Boxer said to expect that California and other states will go to Federal Court to challenge and overturn Bush’s decision. Despite the news media seeming attributing this as a decision of the EPA, the fact is that this is a Bush decision.

Senator Boxer reported that Congress will be investigating the denial of the waiver by Bush. A report in the Washington Post said the final decision by the EPA per se was contrary to the internal advise within the EPA.

As reported by the Washington Post,

House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Henry Waxman, D-Calif., sent a letter to EPA Administrator Stephen L. Johnson demanding “all documents relating to the California waiver request, other than those that are available on the public record.”

Waxman told Johnson to have EPA staff preserve all records. The decision against California “appears to have ignored the evidence before the agency and the requirements of the Clean Air Act,” Waxman wrote. He asked for all the relevant documents by Jan. 23.”

If only we had a President that spent as much energy trying to solve global warming problems we face instead of trying to obstruct efforts to take action. Bush and the Republican Congress could have enacted stronger fuel efficiency standards years ago.

Americans need to realize that it was the Republicans that did not take action on this issue for years, not the Democrats. And with only a slim 51 vote majority in the US Senate this year and 60 votes needed to end a filibuster, Republicans continue to hinder needed action. Congress is not the problem – it is the Republicans in Congress and President Bush that have avoided acting earlier on global warming.

Only with a change of leadership to Democrats in the Presidency and a 60 vote Democratic majority in the Senate will we move forward without so much obstruction from Republicans that are so beholden to the wishes of the corporations over the general welfare of the American people and our environment.

If you need one more reason to vote Republicans out of Congress, just look at the huge $13 billion dollar Christmas present they gave the oil industry. The Senate yesterday passed landmark energy legislation to increase fuel efficiency of cars and trucks by 40% but on a 59 to 40 vote to end debate, were forced to strip from the bill key tax reform provisions to repeal special tax breaks for the oil industry. They also dropped a renewable energy mandate and renewable energy tax credits

One Democrat, Senator Mary Landieu supported the oil industry by voting no to end debate and one Republican, John McCain, was not present to vote. Considering the significance of this bill one has to wonder what he thought was more important than being there for the vote.

The 2008 election continues to shape up as a major turning point for America. It is an opportunity for Democrats to contrast their forward moving agenda to deal with issues like energy independence and global warming with the Republican sell out to corporate America at the expense of the common good for America’s citizens and their pocketbooks.

Face it, the Republicans continue to live in the past and remain beholden to special interests like the oil industry. And Democrats need to show some spine and be leaders in moving America forward. As the New York Times writes today,

some environmentalists said they were unhappy that the bill would not provide large incentives for expansion of renewable energy sources like wind, solar and biothermal.
Brent Blackwelder, president of Friends of the Earth Action, accused Senate Democrats of “capitulating” to Senate Republicans and the White House.
“When the Republican leadership and the polluter lobby have blocked important legislation, Senate Democrats have been all too willing to move in their direction,” Mr. Blackwelder said in a statement. “The result is that the two most positive provisions of the energy bill — a clean energy mandate and a tax package reining in handouts for fossil fuels and promoting clean energy — are being removed, while detrimental provisions, such as a radical five-fold increase in unsustainable biofuel use, remain.”

Carl Hulse in On the Hill quotes what part of the strategy of the Republicans will be during the coming year. It will be to blame the Democrats for the problems Democrats inherited from the Republicans, all the while doing everything they can to be sure that Democrats get as little done as they can to solve these problems.

Here’s what Hulse quotes the Republican National Committee saying in its comments on their recent victories in the Special Elections to fill two Congressional vacancies.

“The underlying economic anxiety that Americans feel toward the tax-and-spend policies of the new, wildly unpopular do-nothing Democratic Congress have led to the emergence of issues such as combating illegal immigration and providing tax relief to working families and will ultimately play to Republicans’ advantage next year,”

Give me a break. “Wildly unpopular do nothing Congress“? The Republicans are the ones obstructing getting things done. And President Bush’s vetoes since the Democrats gained the majority are part of this strategy. The Republican strategy is to try to prevent the Democrats from passing significant legislation so that the Republicans can say it is the Democrats fault.

Look at what the Republicans do, not what they say. They are playing with right wing talk radio hype hoping Americans are easily deceived.

Providing tax relief to working families” ? If you believe the Republicans are going to do this you sure didn’t understand what was happening when they controlled Congress. Tell me how the Republicans, by preventing the repeal of the oil industries special tax breaks, and as a result giving $13 billion in tax breaks to the oil industry, is going to help working families.

The Republicans fought fuel efficiency legislation for cars and trucks all the way. The Democratic sponsored and passed bill according to the Environment News Service is expected to save 1.1 million barrels of oil a day and save consumers some $22 billion in 2020. Proponents say it will also make a significant dent in U.S. emissions of greenhouse gases, equivalent to taking some 60 million cars off the road. ”

Thank you Democrats!
The Environmental News Service  noted that the Democratic passed legislation also

“…tightens energy efficiency standards for government buildings as well as for consumer appliances and products.
“People underestimate efficiency, but today household appliances, lighting and electronics use up to two-thirds of energy in households,” said Senator Maria Cantwell, a Washington Democrat. “By requiring these new standards for manufacture of these products, we will save over 40,000 megawatts of energy. That is the same amount of electricity used in 19 states today.”

Thank you Democrats!

The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco last week slapped slapped George Bush’s hand again. They rejected his wimpy do almost nothing fuel efficiency standards for light trucks and SUV’s. See New York Times article. Bush’s proposal was to increase the average fuel efficiency for light trucks from 22.5 mpg to 23.5 mpg by 2010. The standard for cars is 27.5 mpg.

The Court ruled that the Transportation Department did not take into account the economic costs of not reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

Washington State was not a party to the suit although it certainly had a chance to join. Washington State’s Attorney General Rob McKenna chose not to participate.

Eleven states , 2 cities and 4 environmental organizations had filed the original suit. Washington State was absent from the list of states that were part of the suit. California, Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, Rhode Island, Vermont, New Mexico, Oregon and Minnesota and New York City and the District of Columbia were parties to the suit.

Washington state’s absence from this suit is not surprising. Rob McKenna is a Republican. George Bush is a Republican. McKenna‘s loyalties are first to his party, not our state. In fact all of the states that joined the lawsuit had Democratic Attorney Generals. No Republican Attorney General saw fit to join the lawsuit to try to curb global warming.

Rob McKenna will of course protest, saying wait a minute, Washington state was a party to another significant Supreme Court decision in April 2007 that said the EPA had the authority to regulate greenhouse gases. In fact he even put out a press release after it was decided praising the decision. The truth, however, is that McKenna did not originate that suit. It was Washington’s current Governor, Christine Gregoire, when she was Washington State’s Attorney General, who joined the lawsuit when it was filed in 2003.

I have previously written about McKenna‘s lack of enthusiasm for bucking his fellow Republican George Bush by his lack of tackling the global warming issue. I wrote the Attorney General asking why he was not involved in the lawsuit last year and urged that Washington state join the lawsuit. I think the year and a half that has passed since then has significantly shown the importance of our needing to act to curb global warming and the need for significant and meaningful action like drastically increasing fuel efficiency standards for cars and trucks.

You can read my press release here – Press Release – “Attorney General Rob McKenna Should Join Federal Lawsuit on Vehicle Fuel Efficiency Standards

see also:
MajorityRulesBlog Missing in Action – Washington State Attorney General Rob McKenna
MajorityRulesBlogUpdate on Washington Attorney General Rob McKenna Asleep at the Wheel
MajorityRulesBlog 2nd Update – Still Waiting to Hear from Attorney General Rob McKenna
MajorityRules Blog 3rd Update –Washington State Attorney General McKenna Should Join Car Fuel Efficiency Lawsuit

Here is the response from McKenna‘s office and my comments – “Washington State Attorney General’s Office Responds to Not Joining Other State’s on Fuel Efficiency Lawsuit”

Rob McKenna missed his chance to be part of the solution rather than stick his head in the sand. McKenna is running again for Attorney General of Washington. Inaction on critical issues when the opportunity arises like it did for McKenna to join the Federal lawsuit and represent Washington state’s interests are legitimate issues that one can use to evaluate and judge whether a public official is representing the voters interests or not.

Global warming is a significant issue affecting the future of our state. The public has a right to question the inaction of public officials in addressing this problem. On this one McKenna came up missing in action.

The Denver Post reports that beer prices are rising faster than inflation. Expect it to increase even more by next year. Farmers in Washington State along with those in Idaho, Montana, Minnesota and North Dakota are partly to blame – they have planted 22 percent less barley than last year.

Barley is a key ingredient in making beer and the price of barley has gone up 48% since last year. The impact on beer prices is just starting to show up now since barley contacts usually are bought a year in advance.

Farmers are planting less barley because the expanding market for biofuels like E85 composed of 85% ethanol are driving up corn prices. The Denver Post reports the price of corn futures up 49% since December 2005.

But its not just beer prices that are affected by America’s gluttony for driving. The lack of foresight and action by Bush to raise fuel efficiency standards on cars and trucks to reduce America’s need for more fuel, combined with a push for biofuels, has resulted in increased competition for corn. The push by Bush to switch from gasoline to biofuels is not the answer to America being hostage to foreign oil.

Producing ethanol from corn comes at a price. And its more than just beer. Gwynne Dyer, an independent journalist in London writing in the Toledo Blade on July 10, 2007 notes that the increased use of corn for biofuels is raising food prices worldwide and will mean starvation for more of the world’s poor.

Dyer notes that “the mania for

“bio-fuels” is shifting huge amounts of land out of food production. One-sixth of all the grain grown in the United States this year will be “industrial corn” destined to be converted into ethanol and burned in cars, and Europe, Brazil and China are all heading in the same direction.
The attraction of bio-fuels for politicians is obvious: they can claim that they are doing something useful to combat emissions and global warming (though the claims are deeply suspect), without actually demanding any sacrifices from business or the voters. The amount of US farmland devoted to bio-fuels grew by 48 percent in the last year alone, and hardly any new land was brought under the plough to replace the lost food production. In other big bio-fuel producers like China and Brazil it’s the same straight switch from food to fuel. In fact, the food market and the energy market are becoming closely linked, which is very bad news for the poor.”

Dyer is not the first to question the rush to biofuels. Lester Brown of the Earth Policy Institute is an early critic of what he calls the “ethanol euphoria.” In testimony before Congress last month he stressed that

“The escalating share of the U.S. grain harvest going to ethanol distilleries is driving up food prices worldwide. Investment in fuel ethanol distilleries has soared since gasoline prices jumped at the end of 2005. Once completed, distilleries now under construction could double U.S. ethanol output, turning nearly 30 percent of next year’s U.S. grain harvest into fuel for automobiles. This unprecedented diversion of the world’s leading grain crop to the production of fuel will affect food prices everywhere, risking political instability. “

Brown very succinctly sums up the impending problem with biofuel from corn:

As more and more fuel ethanol distilleries are built, world grain prices are starting to move up toward their oil-equivalent value in what appears to be the beginning of a long-term rise.
The food and energy economies, historically separate, are now merging. In this new economy, if the fuel value of grain exceeds its food value, the market will move it into the energy economy. As the price of oil climbs so will the price of food. If oil jumps from $60 to $80 a barrel, you can bet that your supermarket bills will also go up. If oil climbs to $100, how much will you pay for a dozen eggs?
From an agricultural vantage point, the automotive demand for fuel is insatiable. The grain it takes to fill a 25-gallon tank with ethanol just once will feed one person for a whole year. Converting the entire U.S. grain harvest to ethanol would satisfy only 16 percent of U.S. auto fuel needs
.

Which gets us back to fuel efficiency standards for cars – Brown notes that there is a simple answer:

“A rise in auto fuel efficiency standards of 20 percent, phased in over the next decade would save as much oil as converting the entire U.S. grain harvest into ethanol.”

I suggest you tell your Senators and Representative what you think we should do. They are currently considering and debating new fuel efficiency standards for cars and light trucks.

Two weeks ago President Bush strolled into the White House Rose Garden and announced that he was taking action to reduce gasoline use by 20% over 10 years. Sounds great right.

Only thing is, it’s a lot of smoke and mirrors. First off, when you examine the actual words of what he said it’s really ambiguous as to what he has committed to do regarding reducing gasoline use. He’s really made no commitment to do anything more than study the issue further and what he has proposed is patently deceptive in that overall fuel use by cars and trucks will continue to go up.

One huge problem is that while reducing something 20% sounds great it is misleading and meant to deceive the public. It is a cover for doing very little in 10 years The goal he’s talking about is not a 20% reduction in fuel use, it’s specifically a 20% reduction in “gasoline use”. And three quarters of the 20% “reducing vehicle gasoline use” is actually a fuel shift to alternative fuels like ethanol and other biofuels.

The truth is Bush is only proposing a 5% reduction in gasoline use over 10 years and a 15% shift in use of gasoline to alternative fuels over this 10 year period. While this will have some impact in reducing dependence on foreign oil, the overall impact on reducing global warming is unclear. While shifting to some alternative fuels will reduce global warming gases, a shift to others would actually increase overall global warming gases produced.

The problem remains that all of this is hypothetical – Bush is asking for more study to produce recommendations before he leaves office next year. His answer to global warming is just like his answer to the Iraq War – leave it to the next President.

California has asked for a waiver to increase fuel efficiency standards. Bush’s study proposal is in fact a way for Bush to avoid acting on this waiver before he leaves office. It’s obvious he has no intent to seriously address global warming issues or make any serious attempt to actually significantly reduce our consumption of fuel and oil. The truth is he has the power to act now to increase fuel efficiency standards for cars and trucks. But he’s not going to. He’s not going to do antything to hurt his business friends in the oil industry from continuing to make record profits.

Its really up to Congress to act because Bush has not committed himself to do much of anything. Bush is just playing word games trying to pull another fast one on the public.

Seems the Washington State Attorney General’s Office is eager to get their spin out on why they did not join the California lawsuit challenging the weak fuel efficiency standards proposed by the Bush Administration for light trucks and SUV’s. When I received their response I was not surprised that they really did not seem to comprehend the need for Washington state to be a leader on this issue.

Washington State last year passed ESHB 1397 – the Clean Car Act - patterned after California’s. Instead of joining with other states that have passed Clean Car Legislation to help reduce global warming, Attorney General Rob McKenna has decided to sit on the sidelines and not participate.

The issue of reducing global warming and reducing oil consumption which contributes to global warming requires aggressive action, not excuses.

My previous posts on this issue started with “Missing in Action – Washington State Attorney General Rob McKenna , and four updates , here, here, here, and here.

The AG’s Office says they are involved and reference a case regarding the EPA saying it was not going to regulate CO2 emissions as a pollutant from cars. The interesting point here is that this lawsuit was initiated by Attorney General Rob McKenna’s predecessor Christine Gregoire in 2003 before McKenna took office.

While I attacked Rob McKenna for his lack of leadership in this area I must also, if he has correctly stated it, say that he shares this lack of action with the Governor’s Office. McKenna belongs to the Republican Party which has not shown any initiative over many years in dealing with increasing fuel efficiency standards, beside Bush’s token effort this year.

But the Seattle Times, in an editorial today, entitled “Democrats on Energy, Still a Zero”, points out that nationally the Democratic Plan on Energy released last week, was just as silent on raising fuel efficiency standards, in this instance as a way of saving energy.

The Seattle Times attributes the Democrats timidity to the influence of states with automotive workers and unions. The irony is that with rising gasoline prices, foreign carmakers that emphasized fuel efficiency, with hybrid cars like the Toyota Prius and Honda Civic Hybrid, are busy selling lots of cars.

Whether its reducing global warming or saving energy, both political parties need to be more aggressive on pursuing real solutions to real problems. This includes making serious efforts to increase Federal fuel efficiency standards to both decrease global warming and save energy.

Below is the response I received from the Washington State Attorney General’s Office.

Dear Mr. Zemke,
Thank you for your inquiry regarding the state of Washington’s decision not to intervene in Cal. et al. v. NHTSA, challenging the federal fuel efficiency standards published in April 2006. The state of Washington, including the Attorney General’s Office, is concerned about the impacts of climate change and supports the states in their efforts to urge federal agencies to fully consider the environmental impacts of CO2 emissions from cars.
In fact, Washington is currently involved in another key case – led by the state of Massachusetts -which we believe more directly addresses concerns about the regulation of CO2 emissions from cars. Last month in Mass. v. EPA, the states, including Washington, asked the Supreme Court to review EPA’s decision not to regulate CO2 emissions from cars as an air pollutant. View the cert petition here.
When this office was asked to consider joining the suit against NHTSA, Attorney General McKenna authorized review of the case and directed that our agency clients be consulted. The main claims of the states’ case relate to whether NHTSA complied with the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). The Washington State Attorney General’s office, Governor Gregoire, Washington State Department of Community, Trade and Economic Development and the Washington State Department of Ecology carefully evaluated the request to join the lawsuit. Based on a variety of factors -including Washingnto’s involvement in Mass. v. EPA- we jointly concluded that this is not a case that Washington should join at this time.
The Attorney General’s office is frequently asked to join lawsuits and file “friend of the court” briefs in support of parties to lawsuits. We evaluate such requests carefully and make decisions based on a variety of factors, including:
· Our ability, in the time provided, to fully consider the legal merit of the claims and the impact of the arguments being advanced on the interests of the state of Washington and its agencies;
· The role and timing of the requested participation;
· The best use of the legal resources of the office; and
· Which states may be most familiar with the legal issues and arguments.
Multi-state litigation presents unique challenges, both substantively and procedurally. Decisions to join a lawsuit or file a brief are made for a variety of reasons, and decisions not to participate should not be construed as taking a formal position on the issues in that case.
To provide further background, there are three multi-state lawsuits currently dealing with carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions. Two are related to cars and one is related to power plants.
The two related to cars are:
· The Massachusetts-led case related to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA’s) authority to regulate CO2 as a pollutant under the federal Clean Air Act (CAA)(United States Supreme Court); and
· The California-led case challenging the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration fuel efficiency (CAFÉ) standards that were just adopted (Ninth Circuit).
The third case deals with the validity of newly updated New Source Performance standards (NSPS) that EPA adopted for emissions from power plants. This is the New York case you reference in your blog.
Here’s a quick description of the state’s involvement in each of those cases:
(1) Mass. et al. v. EPA re: EPA authority to adopt CO2 emission standards for cars. On Oct. 23, 2003, Washington joined a number of states and environmental organizations that filed a Petition for Review under Section 202 of the federal CAA challenging EPA’s refusal to regulate CO2 and other motor vehicle emissions that contribute to global warming. The D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals’ three judge panel issued its decision on July 15, 2005, denying the petition. The states, including Washington, filed a Petition for Certiorari on April 7, 2006, asking the U.S. Supreme Court to hear the case.
(2) Cal. et al. v. NHTSA re: the CAFE rule, alleging that the standards rule should not have been adopted under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) without preparation of an environmental impact statement because the rule’s impacts are significant.
The 52-page statement you reference presents an argument that states are preempted from setting their own vehicle emission standards for CO2. However, the rule is about NHTSA, a federal agency, setting fuel efficiency standards for cars, not about whether states can adopt their own standards. Thus, we do not consider the reference to preemption of state law to be relevant to the challenged rulemaking action and understand that it will not be a main focus of the challenging states’ case.
3) New York et al. v. EPA re: EPA regulation of power plant emissions including CO2. We considered joining this case when it was filed last month, but after careful evaluation and because of its relationship to Mass. v. EPA, we opted to wait and monitor the case instead. We determined that if Mass. v. EPA is accepted for review, a decision in that case could resolve a key issue in New York’s power plant case. We continue to evaluate whether to intervene in this case before the deadline.
Thank you very much for your letter and please feel free to call or e-mail if you continue to have questions regarding the Attorney General’s Office and the cases in which we are involved.
Sincerely,
Janelle Guthrie, APRDirector of Media RelationsWashington State Attorney General’s Office1125 Washington Street SEPO Box 40100Olympia, WA 98504-0100Phone: (360) 586-0725Cell: (360) 584-3046E-mail: janelleg@atg.wa.govJoin Attorney General Rob McKenna’s Listserv for the latest news from the AG’s office or visit our Web site at http://www.atg.wa.gov/

Press Release May 8, 2006
For Immediate Release
For More Information Contact
Steve Zemke 206-999-6095

Why is Attorney General Rob McKenna not Defending Washington’s Clean Car Act?

Is over $36,000 in campaign contributions from automotive interests affecting Washington State Attorney General Rob McKenna decision not to join a Federal lawsuit?

Last Tuesday the State of California and 9 other states plus New York City and Washington, DC filed a Federal lawsuit challenging the Bush Administration’s fuel economy standards for SUV’s and light trucks. They alleged that the standards were too weak, were costing consumers money and failed to address global warming and other environmental concerns.

Attached to the regulations issued in March was a 52 page memorandum from the Bush Administration alleging that the Federal Government, not states, have the ability to regulate carbon dioxide emissions. This is despite the Federal Clean Air Act saying states could choose either Federal clean air standards or California’s.

Here is a lawsuit that follows the intent of Washington’s Clean Car Act passed last year by the Washington State Legislature and which in part is a direct response to President Bush’s challenge to a state’s right to regulate dangerous car emissions. Yet our Attorney General fails to join with other states, which have passed Clean Car Legislation modeled after California’s pioneering legislation, in challenging Washington State’s right to protect its citizens from harmful emissions and global warming

“One has to wonder just whose interests our Attorney General is representing. Is it the citizens of Washington State? Is it laws passed by our state Legislature? Or is it the interest of campaign contributors?” asked Steve Zemke, who writes the MajorityRulesBlog.

Zemke continued, “Is there a desire of the AG not to challenge the policies of the Bush Administration because they are from the same political party? Or is it because the AG doesn’t feel we need to reduce emissions contributing to global warming?”

On Wednesday Steve Zemke e-mailed and called the Attorney General’s office asking for an explanation of why Attorney General Rob McKenna hadn’t joined the lawsuit. Late Friday, after inquiry by the media started, the Attorney General’s Office contacted Steve Zemke of MajorityRulesBlog to say that they would respond to his request for an explanation.

They said there would be a written statement on Monday afternoon explaining Attorney General Rob McKenna’s position. “All the Attorney General has to do is say he is joining the lawsuit,” said Steve Zemke

Resources:

MajorityRulesBlog Missing in Action – Washington State Attorney General Rob McKenna
MajorityRulesBlog – Update on Washington Attorney General Rob McKenna Asleep at the Wheel
MajorityRulesBlog 2nd Update – Still Waiting to Hear from Attorney General Rob McKenna
MajorityRules Blog 3rd Update –Washington State Attorney General McKenna Should Join Car Fuel Efficiency Lawsuit

Washington Post – 10 States Sue over Fuel Economy Standards

Oregon Attorney General’s Press Release – Governor, Attorney General Sue Feds over Fuel Efficiency Standards

New York Attorney General Press Release – State and City Sue For Better Fuel Efficiency Standards

Washington’s Clean Car Act HB 1937

Last Tuesday the Attorneys General of 10 states filed a Federal lawsuit urging stronger fuel efficiency standards for SUV’s and light trucks. Lead by California, the other states on the lawsuit included Oregon, New York, Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New Mexico, Rhode Island and Vermont.

Conspiciously absent from the lawsuit was Washington State. Almost all of the states filing the lawsuit have passed Clean Car Legislation patterned after California’s. Washington State passed such legislation last year. The Federal Government when it issued new fuel efficiency standards in March asserted that only the Federal Government, not the states could regulate CO2 emissions.

Majority Rules Blog has posted 3 times in the last week asking the question of why Washington State Attorney General Rob McKenna is missing in action in defending Washington’s Clean Car Act. We called the Attorney General’s office and e-mailed the Attorney General’s office asking for an explanation. Finally late Friday we got a call back saying that a formal response was being written and would be reviewed by the Attorney General and available on Monday afternoon.

While we will be interested in seeing what explanation Attorney General Rob McKenna may come up with for not initially joining the lawsuit, we believe that Rob McKenna should act now to join the lawsuit. Washington State needs to join with other states in efforts increase fuel efficiency in new vehicles which will save consumers money, as well as increase efforts to reduce CO2 emissions which are a main contributor to global warming.

Rob McKenna is a Republican Attorney General and had received over $36,000 from automotive interests in his campaign for Attorney General. Republicans as represented by the Bush Administration have long resisted efforts to increase automobile fuel efficiency standards and President Bush has vigorously resisted efforts to reduce global warming by reducing CO2 emissions.

We urge Rob McKenna to step outside the Republican rhetoric if this has affected his decision not to join in efforts of other Attorneys General to increase car fuel efficiency, save consumers money nd reduce global warming. McKenna needs to act in the best interests of Washington State citizens and fight for their needs, not the needs of an intransigent car industry that is fighting needed change.

references:

MajorityRulesBlog Missing in Action – Washington State Attorney General Rob McKenna
MajorityRulesBlog – Update on Washington Attorney General Rob McKenna Asleep at the Wheel
MajorityRulesBlog 2nd Update – Still Waiting to Hear from Attorney General Rob McKenna

Since I both called and e-mailed Attorney General McKenna on Wednesday, I still have not received a reply. My question – Why didn’t Rob McKenna join  the lawsuit filed on May 2, 2006 by California and 9 other states questioning the fuel efficiency standards issued by the Bush Administration?

One issue of particular concern is the 52 page memorandum attached by President Bush to the standards issued at the end of March which challenged the right of states to regulate CO2 emissions. This was saying the Federal Government overrode any standards set by the Clean Car Act HB 1937 passed by the Washington State Legislature.

I speculated it might have something to do with a number of his campaign contributions coming from people who worked in the automotive industry. But maybe its something even more basic. Rob McKenna is a Republican. Republicans in general don’t believe in regulation and support the concept of free enterprise – even when it threatens the lives and health of people in Washington state. Rising gas prices are just part of business as usual. Companies can charge whatever they want. They can make whatever profit they can gouge out of consumers.

Maybe Rob McKenna doesn’t think that we know enough about global warming to act to try to reduce greenhouse gases. That what Bush says and McKenna would be a disloyal Republican to challenge the beliefs of his Commander in Chief. That despite the fact that almost all scientists believe that we are facing a real problem and that it is fair to call it a crisis.

In the preamble to HB 1937 it says:

(2) Air pollution levels routinely measured in the state of Washington continue to harm public health, the environment, and the economy. Air pollution causes or contributes to premature death, cancer, asthma, and heart and lung disease. Over half of the state’s population suffers from one or more medical conditions that make them very vulnerable to air pollution. Air pollution increases pain and suffering for vulnerable individuals. Air pollution imposes several hundred million dollars annually in added health care costs for air pollution-associated death and illness, reducing the quality of life and economic security of the citizens of Washington;
(3) Reductions of greenhouse gas emissions from transportation sources are necessary, and it is equitable to seek such reductions because reductions in greenhouse gas emissions have already been initiated in other sectors such as power generation

New York State Attorney General Eliot Spitzer in his press release announcing joining the lawsuit stated:

“At a time when consumers are struggling to pay surging gas prices and the challenge of global climate change has become even more clear, it is unconscionable that the Bush administration is not requiring greater mileage efficiency for light trucks,” said Attorney General Spitzer. “The failure of this Administration to lead on vital environmental issues like this will burden our nation for generations to come.”

Meanwhile Rob McKenna, according to the the Attorney General’s website, is busy monitoring gasoline pricing.

“Recent actions in participation with other state attorneys general The Washington State Attorney General’s Office works in close cooperation with other Western states to review the factors influencing the price of petroleum products in the West. This office has and will continue to work with other state and federal agencies to insure petroleum prices remain competitive.”

In the past several weeks, gasoline prices in Washington have reached record levels. The Attorney General’s Office regularly monitors gasoline pricing to determine whether price increases indicate possible anticompetitive behavior or reflect normal market forces….Current high prices appear to be a reflection of a tight supply/demand balance. Furthermore, all indications are that prices will tend to remain high.

It is instructive to note that while a number of action were taken against oil companies to protect Washington consumers during Gregoire’s tenure, there is a conspicuous absence of action since 2002.

My concern is the role of the Attorney General in protecting Washington citizens from rising gas prices and global warming, issues addressed partially by HB 1937. By all indications we not being represented by Rob McKenna. It appears he is being loyal to the Bush mantra by following the failed policies of President Bush. When the largest oil companies are reporting record profits while consumers are being hit with record gas prices, how is that just “normal market forces”. Our economy and people’s jobs are dependent on a gasoline run car society. What choice do people have?

It would be one thing if oil companies were making profits somewhere in the middle of U.S. companies, but people are feeling real pain. When an oil company like Exxon Mobil breaks a record $36 billion last year, making the most profit of any US company, and sets another record for the first quarter of 2006, exceeding last years 1st quarter, with a profit of $8.4 billion this is I’m supposed to believe according to McKenna, just “normal competition.”

Conoco Philips and Chevron also came in with huge profits.They’re not feeling any pain are they, unless it their aching muscles raking in all the dough Americans are giving them by inflated prices at the gas pumps?

Let’s face it. Rob McKenna is doing the little feel good things with his public service ads promoting himself but he is just another Republican. Republicans represent corporate interests like automotive companies and oil companies, not the average citizen. Two days ago he had posted on the state website that no price gouging was occurring with gasoline prices. Today I can’t find it. Maybe he had to go out and fill up his car.

Set your Twitter account name in your settings to use the TwitterBar Section.