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NY Court Throws Out Fossil Fuel Group's Lawsuit Over Program that Cuts Power Plant Pollution

Dale Bryk

Posted December 6, 2013 in Curbing Pollution, Green Enterprise, Solving Global Warming, U.S. Law and Policy

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In a big win for New York’s economy—and for our nation’s battle against climate change—the Appellate Division of New York’s Supreme Court yesterday threw out a lawsuit brought by fossil fuel industry interests. The suit was designed to kneecap a 9-state power plant pollution-cutting program called the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI).

The three plaintiffs who brought the suit are members of Americans for Prosperity, a fossil fuel industry front-group that is bankrolled by oil magnates David and Charles Koch. The Koch brothers, two of the 10 richest Americans, have used their vast wealth to promote climate-change denial and to attempt to sabotage clean energy efforts in states nationwide. In the past several years, the organization’s disinformation campaigns have targeted RGGI in an attempt to take it down.

But yesterday’s decision proves once again that misguided lawsuits—even ones underwritten by the wealthiest oil tycoons—can’t derail RGGI or its many benefits. And it reaffirms the strong legal foundations of our country’s longest-standing and most successful greenhouse gas emissions reduction program—one that cuts global warming pollution from power plants in the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic as it builds our economy, saves consumers money on energy and creates new jobs that can’t be shipped overseas.

Indeed, since RGGI began operations in January 2009, the program has flourished:

As the RGGI states noted in a letter to EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy earlier this week, “The states involved in RGGI are demonstrating that environmental protection can go hand-in-hand with economic development and job creation.”

Just ask Dan Kartzman, President of Long Island’s Powersmith Home Energy Solutions. RGGI has helped to increase the size of his business nearly tenfold in the past few years. Funds from the program help people in Nassau and Suffolk Counties pay for the upfront costs of making energy efficiency improvements to their homes – improvements that his company makes (such as installing insulation and high-performance heating and cooling equipment). In three years, Powersmith's grown from four employees to nearly 40, many of whom are formerly out-of-work construction workers or returning vets. And the homeowners have benefitted greatly, too: The company’s average customer with oil heat in their home now saves $1,000 or more a year.

In addition to allowing the environmental and local economic benefits to continue in New York, yesterday’s ruling is also a big win for the nation. As EPA works to implement new carbon pollution rules for existing power plants, other states should look to RGGI as a model for how to reduce dangerous carbon pollution in a way that also helps create jobs and economic growth. In fact, today, utilities, environmental groups and state environment and energy officials are meeting with EPA staff to make this case. They will emphasize the advantages that RGGI, and regional and state programs modeled after it, have to offer the nation as we work to meet President Obama’s important climate goals and finally set carbon pollution standards for the 1,500 existing power plants in our nation that produce 40 percent of U.S. carbon dioxide emissions.

Yesterday’s court decision is a victory for the people of New York over the financial self-interest of wealthy oil tycoons. Thanks to this move, New York can continue reaping the economic and environmental benefits the program has been delivering over the last few years. And our nation can follow suit, as we get serious about tackling climate change pollution from our dirtiest power plants. After all, doesn’t every state deserve the same benefits that RGGI has brought to these lucky nine?

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Comments

meme mineDec 7 2013 10:18 AM

Science refuses to end this costly debate to save the planet by agreeing with a consensus that is beyond just; “COULD BE a climate crisis” as not one IPCC warning says “will be” or “inevitable” or “eventual”. Deny this; It's a 30 year old meaningless consensus of "maybe" and never;"will" be like you believers tell your children it is.

YOU can’t tell our children it WILL be a climate crisis until science says it no matter how much you want to tell them a climate crisis WILL happen for them.

And get up to date like real progressives;

*Occupywallstreet now does not even mention CO2 in its list of demands because of the bankster-funded and corporate run carbon trading stock markets ruled by trustworthy politicians taxing the very air we breathe so the politicians can make the weather nicer and colder for us like they promised. What century is this?

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Switchboard is the staff blog of the Natural Resources Defense Council, the nation’s most effective environmental group. For more about our work, including in-depth policy documents, action alerts and ways you can contribute, visit NRDC.org.

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