The New York Attorney General’s office recently won an important decision in Albany County State Supreme Court when a lawsuit by a Koch Brothers’-backed political organization, which attempted to stop New York’s involvement in a multi-state campaign to cut climate changing emissions, was dismissed.
Last week, the AG’s office defended the climate-change moderation effort, known as the “Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative,” against a suit backed by Americans for Prosperity, the Virginia-based conservative advocacy organization run by tycoons David H. Koch and Charles G. Koch. Americans for Prosperity sought to force New York to withdraw from the initiative against its will.
“This is a significant victory for those of us who take the threat of climate change seriously, and want to mitigate its harmful effects,” said New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman. “I will continue to use the full force of my office to vigorously defend sensible efforts that reduce climate change pollution and, thereby, protect the health and welfare of New Yorkers.”
In 2005, New York joined a group of Northeastern and Mid-Atlantic states in signing a memorandum of understanding in which each agreed to propose a program to regulate carbon dioxide emissions from fossil fuel-fired power plants. After a three-year process, in 2008, New York adopted regulations to carry out a program. New York’s regulations create a market-based system to cut the overall carbon dioxide emissions by 10 percent by 2018. Power plants that burn fossil fuels are major contributors of climate change pollution; in New York, they emit roughly one-fifth of all the carbon dioxide generated in the state.
Under New York’s Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, emissions of carbon dioxide by electric-generating power plants of 25 megawatts and larger operating in the state are capped. Power companies must get sufficient allowances to cover their plant emissions, with most obtaining their allowances through public auctions held by the State. Companies that reduce their emissions do not need to buy as many allowances, and may sell excess allowances to other power companies. Proceeds from the auctions are used to support renewable energy, energy efficiency, and other greenhouse gas reduction and climate protection efforts.
A recent study conducted by the independent economic consulting firm Analysis Group concluded greenhouse gas programs from the multi-state initiative added $1.6 billion to the economies, and 16,000 new jobs. The study also says the initiative will give consumers in these states with $1.3 billion in savings on their electric bills over the next decade through energy efficiency measures using funds generated by the Initiative.
In his motion to dismiss, Attorney General Schneiderman argued that Americans for Prosperity did not have adequate and legally protected interest to challenge the regulations, and that their lawsuit was barred by their unreasonable delay pursuing the challenge. The plaintiffs filed their lawsuit in June 2011, three years after New York began implementing the Initiative. The Court, in dismissing the lawsuit, agreed with the Attorney General’s office.
Americans for Prosperity is a de facto political action organization that hides behind a tax-exempt, non-profit status. While it has a harmless-sounding name, AFP has a post-democracy agenda and spends millions on campaigns trying to roll back climate-change legislation and health-care reform, among other progressive causes. The organization also campaigns against Democratic candidates for office. Where American’s for Prosperity gets funding from is murky at best. While the Koch Brothers are notoriously behind the organization, it’s unknown to the public where other backing comes from, and its widely speculated that the secretive organization is a puppet of foreign-controlled corporations, the oil industry, and the banking industry.
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