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.

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