WASHINGTON, Oct. 16 – A lawsuit in state court Thursday challenges carbon emissions regulations that will drive up electricity prices in New York.
The state’s Appellate Division in Albany will hear the lawsuit, brought by three small business owners, arguing that because the legislature never authorized New York to join the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI), the governor had no authority to implement its cap-and-trade restrictions on carbon dioxide emissions from power plants. The resulting increases in electricity prices amount to an illegal tax.
A trial court dismissed the case in 2012 on procedural grounds, but plaintiffs argue that both they and all New York electricity rate payers deserve a ruling on the merits of their claims.
RGGI is an arrangement, or compact, among the states of Connecticut, Delaware, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York, Rhode Island, and Vermont to force power plants to buy CO2 emission allowances via state auction. Revenues are to be used for subsidies to renewable energy interests.
The lead attorney for the plaintiffs, Mark W. Smith of Smith Valliere, stated: “The alleged purpose behind RGGI is to reduce carbon dioxide emissions, but the reality is that it has become a large energy tax imposed illegally on New Yorkers. If New York State believes RGGI is a valuable program, then let’s have a vote. Americans oppose taxation without representation, but that’s what RGGI amounts to – an unauthorized tax imposed by government bureaucrats.”
Sam Kazman, general counsel for the free-market Competitive Enterprise Institute and of counsel in the case, stated: “It’s fitting that this hearing is being held only days after the U.S. Supreme Court decided to review CO2 emission limits imposed by the federal Environmental Protection Agency. Government regulators seem to think that they can do whatever they want, regardless of the law, as long as it’s in the name of restricting carbon dioxide.”