The Progressive


A project of Common Dreams

For Immediate Release

Abigail Dillen, Earthjustice, (212) 791-1881, ext. 221

Environmental Groups Defend Northeast's Global Warming Effort, File Court Papers to Support New York in Power Plant Lawsuit

Lone power company filed suit challenging nation's first enforceable effort to reduce climate pollution in January


Environmental groups are going to court to help defend the
nation's first enforceable effort to reduce the pollution responsible
for global warming. The Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI) will
require cuts in greenhouse gas emissions from power plants in 10
northeastern states.

Five environmental and energy groups filed court papers (PDF)
today in State Supreme Court supporting New York State in its defense
against a lawsuit brought by a single power company, Illinois-based
Indeck Energy.

After years of public comment and input from stakeholders, including
power producers, each of the 10 RGGI states adopted regulations to
implement the initiative. Most power plants in the region are on board
with the effort, and have already participated in the three successful
auctions of pollution allowances, also known as "carbon credits." The
next RGGI auction is scheduled for June 17.

Indeck filed a lawsuit earlier this year challenging the regional
climate initiative in an effort to get free pollution allowances, among
other claims. The company filed its suit before learning if it would
receive free pollution allowances from the state.

"Putting this challenge to rest will be of great benefit to the
regional and national efforts to reduce the pollution from our power
plants that is causing global warming -- it is unfortunate that one
disgruntled company who feels they did not get a sweet enough deal
could hinder such an important effort from going forward," said Seth
Kaplan, Vice President for Climate Advocacy at the Conservation Law
Foundation, a New England-based environmental advocacy group.

New York State filed court papers on May 15, 2009, in response to
Indeck's lawsuit. Today's filing, a 'friend of the court' brief,
submitted by Earthjustice and the Columbia Environmental Law Clinic on
behalf of a coalition of environmental groups, seeks to bolster the
state's case.

"For more than a decade, New York has been a leader in the global
fight to cut the pollution that is changing our climate," said Jackson
Morris, Air & Energy Program Associate, Environmental Advocates of
New York. "And every step of the way, a few bad actors have tried to
slow down the nation's first effort to cut global warming pollution.
Polluters' concerns have been raised and addressed and Indeck is the
lone holdout dragging its feet."

The news comes as Congress hammers out the details of federal
climate change legislation, heeding the Obama Administration's call for

"Sheer greed is motivating this lawsuit at a time when we
desperately need to cut our emissions of carbon dioxide," said
Earthjustice attorney Abigail Dillen, who filed the lawsuit on behalf
of Environmental Advocates of New York, Conservation Law Foundation,
Environmental Defense Fund, Pace Energy and Climate Center, and the
Natural Resources Defense Council. "Fortunately the law is on the side
of this innovative program to combat climate change."

"Polluters will continue to complain that charting a new path away
from 'business as usual' will be costly. Still, New York is leading the
way on reducing harmful global warming pollution, while helping their
customers save money and creating jobs in the state," said Luis
Martinez, an energy attorney with Natural Resources Defense Council.

"It is unfortunate that Indeck's lawsuit has jeopardized the flow of
RGGI auction revenues to provide funding for New York's energy
efficiency and renewable energy programs," stated Jamie Van Nostrand,
Executive Director of the Pace Energy and Climate Center. "Indeck's
issues were adequately addressed in the development of the RGGI rules
in New York, and its legal challenge should be rejected to allow the
RGGI program to continue to move forward and provide environmental
benefits to New Yorkers."

The RGGI was designed to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from
Northeast power plants in 10 states. In addition to the direct cuts in
global warming pollution associated with implementing the program,
auctioning emissions allowances under the regional effort provides
revenue for programs that further reduce pollution, such as energy
efficiency and clean energy. Scientists say that without real
reductions in climate change pollution, average temperatures in the
Northeast could increase as much as 10 degrees by the end of the
century, threatening public health, infrastructure and coastal
property, agriculture and water supplies.

A copy of the brief filed today can be found at:

Earthjustice is a non-profit public interest law firm dedicated to protecting the magnificent places, natural resources, and wildlife of this earth, and to defending the right of all people to a healthy environment. We bring about far-reaching change by enforcing and strengthening environmental laws on behalf of hundreds of organizations, coalitions and communities.