States Sue Federal Government over 'Global Warming'

By Marc Morano | July 7, 2008 | 8:20 PM EDT

( Seven states announced on Thursday their intention to sue the federal government over the issue of "global warming." The states are seeking to force the Bush administration to regulate power plant emissions containing carbon dioxide, which they maintain is contributing to a buildup of greenhouse gases and the warming of the planet.

"This is an extraordinary measure that is being initiated today... It's a question of protecting our future," said Rhode Island Attorney General Patrick Lynch in a teleconference with other state attorneys general.

In addition to Lynch, state attorneys general from Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York and Washington state joined in the legal effort. The officials maintain the federal Clean Air Act mandates the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to conduct more frequent analysis of air pollutants from coal-fired power plants in the U.S.

New York Attorney General Eliot Spitzer said the pending lawsuit was "essential."

"We see this as being an absolutely essential part of our ongoing effort to encourage the EPA to fulfill its statutory mandate, which is to protect our environment," Spitzer said.

But Scott Segal, director of the Electric Reliability Coordinating Council (ERCC), said if the states are successful with their legal action, the verdict would amount to a "legal straight jacket" for the coal-fired industry. The ERCC is a coalition of electric utilities and public power companies.

Segal insisted there is no scientific consensus about "global warming."

"They would make the Clean Air Act the most intrusive and all-encompassing regulation of human activity that you can imagine," Segal told

"This group of AGs have a long-time policy of trying to undermine the use of coal in the U.S.," he added.

According to Segal, the legal action would limit energy choices in the United States.

"In this time of grave concern regarding the energy security of the nation, it is wholly irresponsible to endorse actions that limit the fuel diversity," Segal said.

Protecting the Children

But Lynch believes that forcing the Bush administration's EPA to regulate greenhouse gases would protect the nation's children.

"What interests can be more vital than protecting the futures of our children and children's children by preserving our environment?" Lynch asked.

"The Bush administration is in effect saying that corporate profitability matters more than protecting future generation from the lethal hazards posed by global warming," Lynch explained.

"I have a seven and a five year old. I want them to grow up to see their five year olds," he added.

'Tea Kettles to Cows'

But Segal warned carbon dioxide emissions are not the only greenhouse gases that could ultimately be regulated if the attorneys general succeed.

"By their own logic, water vapor and methane are even more effective greenhouse gases," Segal said.

"We may see regulations on everything from tea kettles to cows" if the legal action succeeds, Segal explained.

Connecticut Attorney General Richard Blumenthal believes that the legal action must succeed because the consequences of "global warming" may be dire.

"There will be increases in disease borne by insects and pests, such as Lyme disease and Eastern equine encephalitis. There will be displacement of people, destruction of infrastructure, along with threats to habitat and other kinds of natural resources," Blumenthal said.

"These kinds of damage are not speculative or abstract. They are real and immediate," he insisted.

Blumenthal pointed to the Bush administration's own report, entitled, "National Assessment on Climate Change" as proof of the immediate danger from climate change.

"The most dramatic evidence is the administration's own report ... which concludes that the dominant source of human caused climate change is carbon dioxide and that global warming and greenhouse gases are a threat to civilization on this planet," Blumenthal said.

But Chris Horner, a senior fellow at the free-market environmental think tank Competitive Enterprise Institute, said the administration's report has been thoroughly "disavowed" and "disgraced."

"The National Assessment was hurriedly slapped together in an incomplete and inaccurate form," Horner said.

Horner Thursday filed a "Data Quality Act" petition with the White House Science Office to prohibit further distribution of the National Assessment report.

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