Tag Archives: fuel efficiency standards

Update on Washington Attorney General Rob McKenna Asleep at the Wheel

On Tuesday I speculated aloud about why Washington State was not a party to the Lawsuit filed by California and 9 others states plus the city of New York and the District of Columbia challenging the weak Federal Fuel Efficiency Standards issued in March.. I wondered if it could have been because McKenna received some 28 contributions over $1000 each (over $36,000) from automobile interests when he ran for Washington State Attorney General.

To be fair I have a call into the Attorney General’s Office asking why Washington State is not a party to this lawsuit. When the Bush Administration issued the fuel efficiency standards in March it also included a 52 page statement saying that only the Federal Government could regulate CO2 emissions from cars and trucks.

Such an action would override the Clean Car legislation the Washington State Legislature passed last year. It seems that from consumer protection, health protection and environmental protection Attorney General Rob McKenna is not protecting Washington State’s interests.

In addition to trying to get their response verbally I have just sent them the following e-mail entitled “Why is Washington State not a party to the Lawsuit filed by the California AG to increase fuel efficiency standards for SUV’s and light trucks?

Dear Attorney General Rob McKenna,

Yesterday the California Attorney General and nine other state Attorney Generals and the District of Columbia and New City filed a lawsuit in Federal Court challenging the Federal fuel efficiency standards set in March for light trucks and SUV’s. See press release http://ag.ca.gov/news alerts/release.php?id=1299#attachments

Almost all of the states in the lawsuit have passed Clean Car Legislation patterned after California’s. Washington State passed such legislation last year.And Oregon is in the process of enacting similar rules.

As part of the final standards issued by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, a 52 page memorandum was added by the current administration stating that the Federal Government, not the states , have the authority to regulate CO2 emissions.

It would seem to me that the state of Washington needs to respond to this issue, not just because it challenges legislation passed by the Washington State Legislature, but also because of the need for Washington State to do all it can increase fuel efficiency and cut gases that contribute to global emissions.

Thank you for your response.

Steve Zemke
In addition I have contacted the California Attorney General’s Office on this matter.I asked them if they had asked McKenna about being on the suit. A person in their press office responded that “the protocol is to reach out to a wide variety of states.” They do this through their national organization – the National Association of Attorney Generals.

She said they communicated regularly with other states to make it possible to join the lawsuit. “Lots of communication goes on”. She said I should check with the Washington AG’s office and said” it was a fair question to ask” when I wondered if his decision was affected by our Attorney General getting donations from automotive interests.

Missing in Action – Washington State Attorney General Rob McKenna

Where is Washington State Attorney General Rob McKenna? Is he asleep at the wheel? It certainly seems that is the case. In the story reported today in the Washington Post Washington state is conspicuously absent from the list of states today filing a suit to enforce and protect Washington citizens from rising gas prices and global warming.

Today California Attorney General Bill Lockyer and nine other states filed suit against the Bush Administration. Joining the California Attorney General in the lawsuit were Attorney Generals from Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New York, New Jersey, New Mexico, Oregon, Rhode Island and Vermont.

They are challenging the Bush Administration’s recently issued weak fuel economy standards for SUV’s and light trucks. Weak standards contribute to wasting gasoline, rising gas prices and global warming.
Lockyer states that:

“With gas prices skyrocketing, we must substantially increase fuel efficiency in new vehicles, not only to protect the pocketbooks of working families, but also to reduce vehicle emissions that contribute to global warming,” said Lockyer. “These rules fail that test by not requiring enough from the auto industry. The Bush Administration once again has missed an opportunity to promote new technology, fuel economy and conservation by issuing fuel economy goals that are status quo.”

In addition Lockyer noted that when Bush issued the fuel efficiency rules, Bush attached a 52 page discussion that asserted only the Federal Government, not individual states, could regulate carbon dioxide emissions. Reducing carbon dioxide is crucial to reducing global warming.

President Bush and his Administration have spent most of their time in office representing corporate America and the oil and gas industry and car manufacturers while arguing that global warming is only a theory. He refused to sign the international Kyoto Protocol to help reduce worldwide global warming.

Washington State last year passed HB 1937 – changing vehicle emission standards. The vote in the House was 55 to 42 and in the Senate 29 to 19. The preamble to HB 1937 noted that

motor vehicles are the largest source of air pollution in the state of Washington, and motor vehicles contribute approximately fifty-seven percent of criteria air pollutant emissions, eighty percent of toxics emissions and fifty-four percent of greenhouse gases”

Washington State is one of 10 states that have adopted Clean Car Legislation. The other states are California, Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, Rhode Island, Vermont and Washington.

The state of Oregon is currently adopting California style clear air standards by administrative rule. The Dept of Environmental Quality just won a lawsuit opposing their action in March and will present the recommendationsions to the Oregon Environmental Quality Commission in June for adoption.

In a previous letter to the National Highway Safety Administration, the states suing asserted that the NHTSA,

“failed to consider alternative approaches that would have promoted energy conservation, made meaningful contributions to increased fuel economy and encouraged technological innovation. In addition, the letter said, NHTSA failed to consider the environmental consequences of its proposed overhaul of light truck standards, failed to consider the changes in the environment since the 1980s, when NHTSA last assessed the environmental effects of the standards, and failed to evaluate the impact of carbon dioxide emissions despite identifying the threat of CO2 and global climate change as new information concerning the environment.”

Now here’s a question for you. In looking at Rob McKenna’s 2004 Attorney General campaign contributors, it turns out that a number are employed by auto industry firms. Maybe a third of his contributors appear not to have an employer listed as required by law so I’m sure the number is higher. But of those that do, here is a list of employers, who were easily identified, of the contributors, who gave McKenna $1000 or more. You can see yourself by going to www.pdc.wa.gov.

Titus Will $2700
Honda Auto Center $2500
Toyota of Puyallup $1350
Bob Bridge Auto Center $1350
Enterprise Rent a Car $1350
Lexus of Bellevue $2700
Pignataro Volkswagen $1350
Sound Ford $1350
United Services Automobile Assoc $1350
Washington Oil Marketers Assoc PAC $1250
Sound Ford $1150
Brotherton Cadillac $2000
Downtown Toyota $1000
Honda Auto Center $1000
Volvo of Tacoma $1000
Lexus of Tacoma $1000
Lexus of Bellevue $1000
Jaguar of Tacoma $1000
Dick Hamak Dealership $1000
Chevron Texaco $1000
Acura of Seattle $1000
Volkswagen Hyundai $1250
Richland RV Park $1350

So while almost all of the other states which have passed Clean Car Legislation, joined the suit to try to force the Bush Administration to come up with standards to increase fuel efficiency and reduce global warming, Washington State’s Attorney General has not done so. Can it be because of his automobile industry friends and contributors?

McKenna also did not represent Washington citizens last year in a similar case. Washington state was not among 10 states suing the EPA over greenhouse gases. Is Rob McKenna representing our interests or the interests of corporate America? Maybe he doesn’t believe in global warming? Or maybe he can still afford to fill up his car?

If you would like to ask Rob McKenna why he hasn’t filed on this lawsuit you can contact him at:

Attorney General Rob McKenna
1125 Washington St. SE
PO Box 40100
Olympia, WA. 98504-0100
Telephone: 360-753-6200

Fax: 360-586-7671

E-Mail: Contact the Attorney General Online.
http://www.atg.wa.gov/ago_contact.shtml#38 click not listed for a response form