Lynch Hits Carcieri on EPA Letter

As reported here last week, Governor Carcieri was part of a group of 20 governors who penned a letter voicing opposition to the EPA's planned regulation of greenhouse gases. Attorney General Patrick Lynch is now blasting the governor for the move:

Attorney General Patrick C. Lynch has sent Governor Carcieri a copy of a letter he has written to Rhode Island’s Congressional delegation to counter Carcieri’s participation in a multi-state letter in which Carcieri, along with 19 other governors, stated that the EPA should not regulate greenhouse gas emissions but should be restricted to merely offering input.  Governor Carcieri was the only official from the Northeast to sign the March 10 letter that was sent to Congressional leaders.

“The Governor’s position is not only bad policy but it also threatens to undermine a court agreement between the state and the auto industry,” Lynch said.  “The letter sent by 20 governors, including Rhode Island’s, ignores that fact that my office, acting on behalf of the Governor’s own administration, has just tentatively settled a lawsuit based on the fact that EPA would go ahead and issue regulations.”

Lynch said that, in anticipation of EPA action, he recently settled, in principle, a suit against Rhode Island brought by GM and Chrysler, along with industry trade associations.  The suit arose in 2006 because the industry believed that Rhode Island might regulate greenhouse gases on its own.

In his own letter to Rhode Island’s Congressional delegation, Lynch explained that a contingent settlement, in principle, was reached that benefited both the state and the automakers.  He wrote, “In very broad outlines, the industry received national uniformity…the state received the national imposition of emission standards plus a respite from the litigation.”  Lynch added, “The entire settlement is dependent on the EPA’s taking the step of regulating greenhouse gases.  Importantly, Rhode Island is morally committed to that settlement.  Certainly, good faith calls upon Rhode Island not to undermine the completion of a series of actions that are likely to lead to the consummation of that settlement.”

An EPA decision made in the spring of 2009 and formalized last December-that the agency would go forward with regulations curbing carbon dioxide and five other heat-trapping gases under the Clean Air Act-made the settlement possible.  EPA is in the process of issuing implementing rules, meaning that Rhode Island could adopt a federal standard instead of inventing its own.

“The Governor’s joining in the letter against EPA’s regulation of greenhouse gases unfortunately undermines specific commitments made in litigation in which my office represents the State,” Lynch said.

Lynch referred to the pending settlement of the following case: Assoc’n of Inter’l Automobile Manuf’s v. Sullivan, USDC DRI, 1:06-cv-00069 (“the clean cars case”), on appeal as, First Cir Ct of Appeals # 09-1023.

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