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States Set to Sue the U.S. Over Greenhouse Gases 440

Posted by ScuttleMonkey
from the fight-for-your-right-to-breathe dept.
dnormant writes to tell us The New York Times is reporting that more than a dozen states are gearing up to sue the Bush administration for holding up efforts to regulate automobile emissions. "The move comes as New York and other Northeastern states are stepping up their push for tougher regulation of greenhouse gases as part of their continuing opposition to President Bush's policies. On Wednesday, Gov. Eliot Spitzer's administration is to issue regulations requiring power plants to pay for their greenhouse gas emissions, part of a broader plan among 10 Northeastern states, known as the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, to move beyond federal regulators in Washington and regulate such emissions on their own."
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States Set to Sue the U.S. Over Greenhouse Gases

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  • Gov. Eliot Spitzer's administration is to issue regulations requiring power plants to pay for their greenhouse gas emissions
    We're being taxed and surcharged into oblivion, and we're passing the savings on to you!
    • Yea all these "charges" are passed on to the consumer. Folks like Spitzer may be able top afford it, I can't California (where I live) Should be breaking ground on 50 Reactors today. That will clean up the air in a huge way and allow us to remain a economic power house. All moves to clean up the air are good and badly needed but only if you are not cutting off the nose of every regular guy like me in the process and putting us into poverty.
      • by Jeremi (14640) on Wednesday October 24, 2007 @06:46PM (#21106383) Homepage
        All moves to clean up the air are good and badly needed but only if you are not cutting off the nose of every regular guy like me in the process and putting us into poverty.


        Why should there be an exception for "regular guys like you"? To the extent that you are contributing to the problem and enjoying the benefits of the power produced, it seems only logical that you should be required to help fund the solution. With any luck, requiring power companies to pay for the costs of the pollution they create (and presumably pass that cost on to their consumers) will motivate both the power companies and the consumers to switch to cleaner (and hence cheaper) methods of power generation... which is of course exactly what we want to have happen.

        • by geminidomino (614729) * on Wednesday October 24, 2007 @06:55PM (#21106485) Journal

          With any luck, requiring power companies to pay for the costs of the pollution they create (and presumably pass that cost on to their consumers) will motivate both the power companies and the consumers to switch to cleaner (and hence cheaper) methods of power generation... which is of course exactly what we want to have happen.
          Luck has nothing to do with it. That's the same sort of naive thinking that comes up with ideas like this. As long as the power company can recoup most/all of the added expense from the customer, they won't have any impetus to switch anything at all.
          • by Original Replica (908688) on Wednesday October 24, 2007 @07:09PM (#21106651) Journal
            As long as the power company can recoup most/all of the added expense from the customer, they won't have any impetus to switch anything at all.

            Do you have the option on your power bill to purchase "clean energy"? Now if there is some oversight of the power company that prevents them from passing the pollution costs on to people purchasing the electricity from solar and wind farms, then you have a strong economic incentive for the consumer which is the fastest way to create any large scale change. If if doesn't hurt people in the wallet, then everything will stay status quo.
          • by iluvcapra (782887) on Wednesday October 24, 2007 @07:17PM (#21106721)

            Except suddenly nuclear, wind and solar will have a competitive advantage over coal, oil and gas; there's no luck involved. Energy providers have to compete to provide the lowest cost per kWH, and if carbon costs money, energy producers have incentive to cut it.

            Free CO2 in the air is gonna cost somebody a lot of money someday. Collecting a fixed amount for it at the time of origination is a way of containing the risk, since climate change is liable to be more expensive and less predictable.

            • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

              by geminidomino (614729) *
              What part of the country do you live in that has competition for power? Everywhere I have ever lived (including on Long Island, to remain ontopic), if there was going to be Nukeclear, solar, or wind power (barring personal power generators), it would have to come from the same provider already polluting.
              • by geminidomino (614729) * on Wednesday October 24, 2007 @07:26PM (#21106835) Journal
                And how the hell did I slaughter the word "nuclear" even worse than Texans do?
              • by iluvcapra (782887) on Wednesday October 24, 2007 @07:55PM (#21107211)

                In this glorious deregulated California market you can specify green power, just don't complain about the rolling blackouts (which hit you regardless of where you buy your electricity.) :P In theory power grid deregulation was supposed to allow you to choose where you got your electricity from, but in practice it meant "as long as you bought it from Enron."

                OTOH, It's not just about choosing who runs their lines to you. If you install solar panels on your roof, you'll essentially be buying around 50% of your power from yourself (carbon-free), depending on where you live and how much power you use during the day, though the initial cost is still pretty high. Same goes for a ground-loop air-conditioner, good insulation, really any technology that helps keep the energy you buy on your property. THAT stuff is where the big incentives should be.

            • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

              by Score Whore (32328)
              You need to get off the CO2 bandwagon. It's not CO2 that is a problem. It's any high concentration of greenhouse gases. European ethanol emits more NOX than they thought it would by a factor of 2 (like 4% instead of 2% of the fertilizer they put on the crop makes its way into the fuel) and thus that little bump causes more greenhouse gas problems that just burning straight oil would. NOX being 300 times more of a greenhouse gas than carbon. I point out European because that's the article I read.
          • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

            by kf6auf (719514)

            First of all, companies will maximize profits. When they have to build a new plant, they will build the one that provides what they need for the cheapest amount even if they can supposedly pass on the added expense to the consumer. The problem is that as rates go up, people will use less electricity from the grid (whether by running air conditioners less or buying rooftop solar for homes or businesses), and reduce the profit of the companies.

            Second, with sanctioned monopolies, they often cannot raise pr

      • by Fry-kun (619632)
        That's actually part of the long-term strategy. Another part of it is the consumer's ability to choose the power supplier.
        In short, what this new plan does is, it increases the cost of running non-environment-friendly power plants, while staying away from the costs of "green" alternatives. The coal-burning company will raise their rates - and thus lose more customers to cleaner alternatives.

        Granted, this will have a big effect on low-income households - but that can be helped with tax breaks & such.
    • by alan_dershowitz (586542) on Wednesday October 24, 2007 @06:48PM (#21106407)

      We're being taxed and surcharged into oblivion, and we're passing the savings on to you!
      You're already being charged for pollution, in fact everyone is, in the costs of having to deal with the problems of pollution. What sucks is that a company can socialize the costs of pollution while privatizing the benefits. Currently I pay less as a polluter by not having to build a new plant, while everyone pays for the pollution cleanup. On the other hand, assessing a penalty according to the amount of pollution coming out of any particular plant has the twin effect of disincentivizing pollution and more fairly distributing the costs of dealing with that pollution (providing the assessed taxes are used for that purpose, which they should be.) This is cheaper and fairer, unless you are looking at it from the perspective of a heavy polluter.
      • by Kenrod (188428)
        I don't think you are disincentivizing pollution from the producers standpoint if their bottom line remains the same. If they just raise their rates to cover the costs of polluting, they have no incentive to replace coal plants with something cheaper. The end user will likely not reduce the amount of energy they use unless the cost increase is sizable (consider the fact that gasoline usage has not fallen even though gas is much more expensive now than several years ago).

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by porcupine8 (816071)
        How does it act as a disincentive when they can pass the cost directly to the consumer with no worry of losing business??
        • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

          by emok (162266)
          If the cost of energy increases, consumers have a greater incentive to conserve. It happens all the time with gasoline prices: when the price rises, people drive less and buy more fuel efficient autos.

          You could argue that consumers aren't currently paying for the total cost of energy anyway, since the government is often responsible for cleaning up pollution.
        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          How does it act as a disincentive when they can pass the cost directly to the consumer with no worry of losing business??

          I can think of a few reasons, but keep in mind that I am not an expert in this area.

          * Businesses are large consumers of energy, and they definitely consider power costs when they decide where to locate. Excessive power costs can prevent power company growth.
          * As populations grow, outlying townships/suburbs/whatever will decide to incorporate. At that point they could choose instead of that power company, to form a municipal power company or join a co-op.
          * The city can decide to dump the power company and f

      • Disincentivizing pollution from power plants won't work. Coal plants represent a great deal of base power production, meaning that they are always on even during non-peak hours. There's not a lot of slop to play around with, so pollution won't actually decrease as long as the power plants can just raise their rates instead of installing pollution-reduction equipment. With coal in such a dominant position in the US, there's not enough competition to prevent that from happening.

        The right way to go about th
  • Six Month Notice (Score:3, Informative)

    by eldavojohn (898314) * <[moc.liamg] [ta] [nhojovadle]> on Wednesday October 24, 2007 @06:32PM (#21106247) Journal
    I submitted this story a while ago for California [usatoday.com]. Something I found interesting from that article is at the bottom:

    California is required to announce its intention to sue the federal government six months before it does so.
    I assume this is true of all the states so you should note that this isn't something that's going to happen today unless they announced it six months ago.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by PopeRatzo (965947) *

      The move comes as New York and other Northeastern states are stepping up their push for tougher regulation of greenhouse gases as part of their continuing opposition to President Bush's policies.

      Notice how the writer dismisses the efforts as being part of the states' "continuing opposition to President Bush's policies"? It couldn't be because they are sick of nothing being done about greenhouse emissions. No, it has to be liberal vs. conservative, Right vs. Left, Good vs. Evil, The USA vs. Bush. It just

      • The good news is I have a feeling the BS isn't working as well as it used to. More and more, people I encounter from all walks of life and all ends of the political spectrum are ignoring the talk radio goons and Fox News and can see through the crap. Despite their best efforts, the assault on the middle class in America is bringing a lot of former political enemies back together.

        You do realize how incredibly short sighted that sounds? For example, 30 years ago there was no Fox News or talk radio. Fox News has only been around since 1996, two years after the Republican Party took control of Congress on a conservative agenda. As far as Fox News being "crap", I have yet to hear of a story about Fox News comparable to the NYT Jason Blair fiasco, or the CNN "we knew about Saddam Hussein's torture chambers, but if we'd reported anything he didn't like he would have kicked us out, so we didn't", or numerous other cases of where various news outlets blatantly reported falsehoods in order to make conservatives look bad.

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by c6gunner (950153)

        Notice how the writer dismisses the efforts as being part of the states' "continuing opposition to President Bush's policies"? It couldn't be because they are sick of nothing being done about greenhouse emissions.

        Exactly, it couldn't! That's why you'll never see democrat dominated states suing a democrat president. It simply wouldn't happen.

        My guess? Now that Iraq is starting to look better, they need something new to hammer Bush with, lest he actually start to make gains in his approval ratings.

        F

        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by Red Flayer (890720)
          Not only is your knowledge of the US legal process off, but your knowledge of history is

          Exactly, it couldn't! That's why you'll never see democrat dominated states suing a democrat president. It simply wouldn't happen.

          First off, the states don't sue the president...

          Second, some democratic states have sued the federal government when a democrat was president. Washington State, for example, sued in 1998 to force the EPA to clean up a superfund site... who was president in 1998?

    • by pilgrim23 (716938)
      Me thinks California needs to submit a few forms to some non compliant forests in terms of greenhouse emissions the last few days...
  • Up in Canada where the Kyoto wealth transfer plan (that's what it is, make no mistake) was ratified, we had a quite simple statement told to us: if we stopped every train, plane, and automobile in the entire country tomorrow, we STILL wouldn't meet the Kyoto targets (which is something like 30-40% below where we are now).

    So yes, cars are a part of it, but they are NOT the "things holding you up" here.

    And if somebody could provide links on this, I'd be grateful.
    • by Original Replica (908688) on Wednesday October 24, 2007 @07:00PM (#21106545) Journal
      I think to get improvements in the 30-40% range you need to make serious changes on all fronts. Buildings seem to be the largest consumer of energy, at least in the US, I'm assuming the same is true for Canada.

      current energy use in buildings represents 39 percent of all energy use in the U.S. -- more than industrial or even transportation usage. It concludes that by 2020 building energy use can be reduced by 14 percent and total national energy use could be cut by 5.6 percent through the implementation of short-term, realistic energy policies.http://www.nirs.org/alternatives/factoid11.htm [nirs.org]


      But I think the more drastic changes that will help meet Kyoto targets are in the area of where power comes from. When the wealth redistribution costs to a country outweigh the cost of installing solar panels on every rooftop, then there will be change in that country. The same holds true for making more efficient cars or mass transit or wind farms, they will only ever be "the norm" when they cost less than just burning more fossil fuels. That Kyoto-carbon-tax is helping to push that day a little closer.
      • by Adambomb (118938)
        Depends on where in canada you are referring to. Hydro-electric conservation wouldnt exactly help emissions, despite reducing consumption of power.
      • But I think the more drastic changes that will help meet Kyoto targets are in the area of where power comes from. When the wealth redistribution costs to a country outweigh the cost of installing solar panels on every rooftop, then there will be change in that country. The same holds true for making more efficient cars or mass transit or wind farms, they will only ever be "the norm" when they cost less than just burning more fossil fuels. That Kyoto-carbon-tax is helping to push that day a little closer.

        Hmmmm.... define cost... what is meant by cost? Is it purely the monetary cost of using fossil fuels vs. building wind farms/putting solar cells on our roofs/building hybrid cars/using renewable energy sources wherever possible? Or are we allowed to count the extinction of entire species of animals and the environmental devastation caused by massive pollution and climate change as some of the costs of using fossil fuels? As far as I am concerned the cost of our fossil fuel addiction isn't just measured in

      • When the wealth redistribution costs to a country outweigh the cost of installing solar panels on every rooftop, then there will be change in that country. The same holds true for making more efficient cars or mass transit or wind farms, they will only ever be "the norm" when they cost less than just burning more fossil fuels. That Kyoto-carbon-tax is helping to push that day a little closer.

        Would that not be self-defeating theft?

        An example: Here in Oregon, we have a punitive tax measure on the ballot - an initiative to tax the unholy hell out of tobacco and use the dough to fund health care for kids... problem is, first off there's already taxes taken that fund such a program, and second, if everyone stopped smoking (or even if the numbers dropped appreciably on in-state consumption and population), those kids' parents are still going to demand free medicine and doctor visits... but how d

    • That has more to do with you living in Canada.

      Canadians use far more energy per capita than Americans. FACT.

      Canadians use most of their energy for heating.

      The second highest usage is for industry (which includes it's own heating).

      Thus, for Canada it's not just cars, trucks, planes, and trains.

      You actually have to get more insulation in your homes and use solar where it makes sense. And switch your fuel sources from coal and heating oil to hydro, wind, tidal, geothermal, and other sources. For example, lik
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by ppanon (16583)
        A huge portion of Alberta's carbon consumption comes from burning gas to heat water and extract oil from tar sands. I heard some rumours of research on using nuke power to supply the heat for the tar sands project but I guess our equivalent of the DoE has been reluctant to give the go ahead. The oil companies involved in tar sands projects also aren't too keen on the idea because natural gas is a heck of a lot cheaper to burn compared to running nuke thermal plants.
  • by Dzimas (547818) on Wednesday October 24, 2007 @06:37PM (#21106291)
    The telling thing is that the various northeastern states are pushing the Bush administration for tighter emission regulations. Usually, it's the other way around - local politicians seek to fend off draconian federal policies that might cripple local industry. The amazing thing is that they're suing the EPA itself, and my professional experience is that many scientists associated with the EPA are incredibly concerned about the impact of greenhouse gases on the environment. They're forced to keep quiet and follow the mandate passed down by a perplexingly out-of-touch executive team in the White House.
  • by MightyMartian (840721) on Wednesday October 24, 2007 @06:37PM (#21106297) Journal
    Is there any special meta-meta-mod points out there for reading this with "Chevron... the power of human energy" above it? I wasn't aware humans consumed petroleum-based hydrocarbons and shit out CO2.
  • hmmm (Score:2, Insightful)

    by nomadic (141991)
    Now watch all the states-rights conservatives suddenly jump to the other side of the divide and argue the federal government should get its way.
    • I honestly don't think there are that many real States Rights types around. The Republicans aren't, they just mouth it (along with other nonsense like "fiscally conservative" and "family values") because a lot of their base are religious mental retards who are capable of recognizing little past sloganeering. "Look, let's dump shit in this river because that's STATES RIGHTS!" to which the religious mental retards will go "Uh duh, yeah, Jeebus loves shit in rivers" or "Let's ban federal money for stem cell
      • I honestly don't think there are that many real States Rights types around. The Republicans aren't, they just mouth it

        Ron Paul is a Republican representative with a (farfetched) presidential bid, but he certainly seems to be a staunch supporter of states' rights.

    • by Sunburnt (890890)

      Now watch all the states-rights conservatives suddenly jump to the other side of the divide and argue the federal government should get its way.

      Of course. "States rights" isn't some sort of coherent ideology. It's the convenient political pose of whoever happens to be on the losing side of the votes. There's no such thing as a "states rights" conservative with any practical influence in Washington, and the ones you meet in everyday life or read on the Internet generally seem to miss the forest for the t

  • Show Pony (Score:2, Informative)

    by pwykersotz (920731)
    Oh yes, this is sure to work. Get a few legislators in a minority of states to sue the president's administration. Nothing could possibly go wrong with this! This is a stunt, and a ridiculous one at that. Why not put energy into doing something real instad of wasting time like this? It won't even get people on the side of the activists...people who agree with the suit are already driving hybrids and eating out of their back garden, people who don't aren't going to even care.
  • I am all for improving the environment, but this is only going to come at the cost of public. The power companies are only going to have to install more equipment to filter emissions, in drastic cases they will have to spend lots of capital to implement renewable technologies. This will result in the PUC authorizing a rate increase, because lets face it, This stuff isn't free. In the end, the average joe will pay for higher power. Since everyone shares the same goal of reducing carbon emissions i doubt
    • Of course it's going to cost money; this is something that's intended to benefit everybody, so everybody gets to pay. Seems fair. Unfortunately, something as intangible as environmental protection simply isn't going to be popular, so people complain. I agree that there are bound to be problems with attempts to regulate pollution, and people will point fingers and say how one cock-up is exactly why this is a bad idea, even if we manage to succeed somewhere else. In the end, it's all a matter of "you gott
    • by turing_m (1030530)
      What's your point? It's not as if there aren't more efficient options out there, they just have a longer payback time. Increase the variable cost of resource usage, and suddenly buying more efficient appliances and vehicles makes good economic sense.

      And really, this is just putting the negative externalities back on the producer. Source control is a lot cheaper than everyone purchasing a million air purifiers.
    • Yes, it will raise the price. That happened back in the 60's.
      1. And when we forced the lead to not be in paints or used in gas, that also raised prices.
      2. Likewise, it raised car prices when we first forced cars to get above 5 mpg.
      3. Or when we said no dumping of pollutants in the ground (love canal?).
      4. Or how about when we stopped manufactuering plants from polluting in the air.

      Or we can accept minimal controls, and keep your prices real low.
      If you are looking for really low costs, consider moving to one of th

  • Arrrrgh! (Score:3, Insightful)

    by rindeee (530084) on Wednesday October 24, 2007 @07:04PM (#21106581)
    This kind of crap drives me batty. Qualifier: I'm not a hippie. I don't like the Prius. I vote conservative (do NOT confuse this for Republican). Anyway, if you want to make a difference, park your damn car and ride your bike. Don't own a bike? Take a months worth of gas money and buy a really REALLY nice one. Live too far to commute? You probably don't (you'll get used to the distance), but if you really do, move closer to work. Winter too harsh? Buy studded tires (as in studded car tires for snow and ice) for you bike and wear winter riding clothes. We in the US are a bunch of whiny, bitchy cry-babies. We want to fix things by making others do something about the problem of our own causing (make the engines pollute less, not me). I'm all for efficient engines and such, but alternatives already exist. Each one of us has the ability to make changes TODAY that will have an enormous impact. Not only that, but I AND the hippies will be happy. I'll have the pleasure of not seeing bazillions of dollars go to oppressive middle-eastern countries that would just assume we all die and some communist jackass in South America, and hippies will stop crying about inconvenient truths and whatnot and go back to eating $8 double-dip cones at Ben and Jerry's. Keep your car, but use it only when you really need to, not when you're too lazy not to.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    Now, bear with me since I'm not from the US and as such I'm probably biased as well as unfamiliar with some things. But having said that I cannot help wonder.. Whenever I see some detectives on TV or talk to friends who happen to be American I'm always confronted with the issue of the states. To me the closest thing resembleing this are Germanies "Bunds" (Bundesrepubliek Deutschland).

    If I'm not mistaken you can have different laws across states. One state can have a more closer or looser regulation on gun
    • by LukeCage (1007133)
      Actually your famous "dumb lady coffee cup story" is not as ridiculous as it appears at first glance. Perhaps you could check out this link:

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/McDonald's_coffee_case [wikipedia.org] ...which makes several excellent points.

      Highlights for the lazy:

      That "dumb old lady" was taken to the hospital, where it was determined that she had suffered third-degree burns on six percent of her skin and lesser burns over sixteen percent. She remained in the hospital for eight days while she underwent skin grafting
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by tfoss (203340)

      If you're so worried about the environment why don't you simply put your efforts into "cleaning up" your particular state instead of (more easily ofcourse) blaming it all on one man and start the (to me:) typical selfish American approach of sueing?

      The problem with this logic is that even if I manage to make my state pristine in terms of energy use/pollution control/etc, the state next door can still spew all the pollutants it wants into the air I will be breathing. This was a classic issue for the acid rain issue a couple decades ago, where the polluting states were not the ones reaping the negative environmental consequences. But even more to the point in this case, the issue is that certain states want to require lower limits on allowable emissi

  • Nice (Score:2, Insightful)

    by JustNiz (692889)
    I'm REALLY pleased to see this.
    Its a great indicator that the American people are more intelligent, responsible and honest than their leader.
  • Nice. (Score:3, Insightful)

    by JustNiz (692889) on Wednesday October 24, 2007 @07:27PM (#21106853)
    I'm REALLY pleased to see this.
    Its a great indicator that the American people are more responsible, intelligent and honest than their leader.
  • From both a liberal as well as conservative viewpoint, is precisely lawsuits like this.

    For those of a conservative viewpoint, this is precisely the kind of thing that has been the worst of nightmares regarding the debate, where this is an attempt to broaden the power of the federal government and to enact legislation through judicial case law rather than through a body like the U.S. Congress.

    From a strict constitutionalist viewpoint, state regulations are precisely what was envisioned by the founding fathers for issues like this. When faddish things like Global Warming (and concern about Global Warming is a fad right now, at least from a political perspective) come up, they should be debated by individual states and citizens of those states.

    If left to develop on its own, without somebody crying "fowl" and demanding federal intervention, this "laboratory of American states" is precisely what is envisioned by the founders to see how political ideas like regulation of industries for CO2 gases was intended to develop. Legislation based upon the current wind of political thought was something the early founders of the American Republic feared the most, and it was intended to be a long and difficult process for a good reason, particularly when it governed the actions of individual citizens in relationship to each other, such as this sort of regulation is doing.

    From a politically conservative viewpoint, you can still suggest environmental legislation. There is common ground that can come from this sort of debate and help us to genuinely protect the environment. But you need to frame it from a conservative viewpoint in terms of stewardship, liability, and responsibility. Cut the emotional garbage out about rising sea levels, rising temperatures, and a fear of the future. If you produce pollution, you need to clean up your own messes and be nice to your neighbors. You also shouldn't be wasteful of those resources that God has given to you, because ultimately you will be held responsible for your actions before HIM. Even if you dismiss God as a human construct, there is still the more vague "being held responsible by humanity as a whole" that still applies on some sort of level. I certainly don't mind government regulation that helps to reduce dependence on foreign energy sources and lowering of a trade deficit.

    I also realize that some of this is about legislation that has already been through the meat grinder of Washington D.C., and these states are "merely" asking for those laws to be enforced. A problem here is that the legislation was deliberately vague, and the actual enforcement of these laws left to such broad interpretation, that nearly anything could be suggested in terms of what they really meant or how they can be put together. This lawsuit is a political move to force these national regulations (which arguably may not even be constitutional) to conform to a specific viewpoint that runs counter to the current presidential administration. A U.S. President shouldn't have even had this sort of authority delegated to him in the first place, but of course those pushing in support of this lawsuit already knew that, didn't they? So why should it be moved to the authority of nine men in black robes?

    It is poor law and shouldn't have been enacted in the first place, no matter how lofty the goals were made. Going to the courts is just going to make an awful law even worse. It would be far better to go to the national legislature (aka Congress) and get new legislation passed that deals with this issue, if that is the ultimate goal.
  • by andytrevino (943397) on Wednesday October 24, 2007 @08:01PM (#21107267) Homepage

    The reason why Spitzer and this group are suing the government is that the Feds have established pollution control standards and Spitzer wants them made more restrictive. I am normally in favor of states' rights, but the issue in question here is more of a standards debate for me -- were each state given the ability to mandate their own efficiency requirements for cars, the result would be a broad range of such standards and car companies would have to meet the most efficient denominator, with a drastic (skyward) impact on the price of cars. The federal government sets the national standard, and now you don't have the purchasing power of 4 million Oregonians determining that the rest of us have to pay a premium for a super-efficient hybrid car we can't afford.

    The single biggest problem I have with this bogus lawsuit is this: it's the government suing the government, with all the included lawyer fees. Let the tax dollars fly. With a lawsuit at this level, as well, those fees will not be trifling, and who will pay them but the lowly taxpayer. Residents of the states filing suit are taxed twice on this -- first by their states for their legal fees, and second by the federal government for its defense. Those of us living in states who aren't signed on only get to pay for a lawsuit we disagree with once at the federal level.

    Residents of these states who support this: the proper way to get the EPA to change its guidelines is to have your federal legislators introduce legislation to change those guidelines. Then, those politicians get to convince a majority of their house of the legislature to sign on, which is absolutely necessary for a change with such a huge impact as changing EPA efficiency requirements. This underhanded lawsuit crap is the same tactic that generates so much scorn for SCO, the MAFIAA and other legal trolls -- why is it now okay?

    One of the purposes of the Attorney General's office is to protect the rights of the consumer. The rights of the consumer are NOT being trampled in this situation. Everybody in America has the opportunity to buy a more fuel-efficient vehicle. The government's purpose in the matter should be to establish a baseline of efficiency on which people who can afford it, and innovation by car companies, can improve.

    • by tfoss (203340) on Thursday October 25, 2007 @03:20AM (#21110305)

      One of the purposes of the Attorney General's office is to protect the rights of the consumer.
      I think the rights of citizens are supposed to come before rights of consumers.

      The federal government sets the national standard, and now you don't have the purchasing power of 4 million Oregonians determining that the rest of us have to pay a premium for a super-efficient hybrid car we can't afford.
      Yup, but the federal government hasn't changed CAFE standards substantially in more than two decades. And as noted in TFA: If implemented, the measure would first affect 2009 models; automakers have said it would make it harder to sell the largest and least fuel-efficient sport utility vehicles and pickup trucks in states that adopt the rules. So the 8 mpg H2s would take a sales hit in New York and California. Bummer.

      Residents of these states who support this: the proper way to get the EPA to change its guidelines is to have your federal legislators introduce legislation to change those guidelines.
      Actually the Supreme Court said the EPA is *supposed* to regulate greenhouse gases, and the states in question are trying to get the EPA to allow them to enact greenhouse gas standards. The EPA has been dragging its feet since the ruling 6 months ago, so the lawsuit is to try and force the EPA to do, or allow states to do, what the Supreme Court said the EPA should do.

      -Ted
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      were each state given the ability to mandate their own efficiency requirements for cars, the result would be a broad range of such standards and car companies would have to meet the most efficient denominator, with a drastic (skyward) impact on the price of cars.

      What you're basically saying is that, you're in favor of states' rights, except when they make it more difficult for corporations to make money.

      The "problem" you cite (individual states forcing higher standards on the country as a whole) is actual

  • by Solr_Flare (844465) on Thursday October 25, 2007 @12:52AM (#21109629)
    Don't get me wrong, I'm all for improving the emission situation, but there are two major problems with the approaches by lawmakers. First, as others have stated, cars only account for a very small portion of the emission problem, but they are also the most visable. Thus, cars are frequently targeted by lawmakers to make it appear like they are doing something about the problem, when in fact they are really doing very little at all.

    The second problem is there is *no* real solution to the emission situation unless we change the fuel source we use to power our vehicles. No solution at all. Why? Because improving emissions on vehicles results in either: A) a reduction in performance by a vehicle, which results in higher fuel consumption, which makes the majority of the changes moot. Or B) Improving fuel efficiency, which results in people driving more often because it's cheaper. Again making the majority of the changes moot.

    Quite frankly, outside of a massive investment by this country on the scale of projects like the interstate system and electrifying everyone's homes, or a sudden and surprising leap forward in technology, nothing is going to change significantly for some time to come. Money spent on improving emissions in the short term would be better spent on educating the populace so they make more informed decisions/alter their habits, and serious investment in long term alternatives like Fuel Cell technology.

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