In December 2005, Republican Gov. George Pataki signed a "Memorandum of Understanding" in support of the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI) in New York State. This was supposed to be followed by the State Legislature voting either to support this regional Cap-And-Trade measure - or vote it down. To date, the Legislature has avoided the issue and New York State has acted as if this Memorandum was a Decree by an Obama Czar or other royal figure, i.e., having the force of law in a mythical kingdom.
On the morning of June 28, 2011, Americans for Prosperity's Steve Lonegan, AFP's attorney Mark W. Smith and Niagara Falls resident activist Lisa Thrun joined forces to sue New York (Gov. Cuomo was named as a defendant) came to the steps of the New York Supreme Court in Lower Manhattan to announce they have filed a suit today in Albany, the state capitol, to end what is essentially an unconstitutional (New York's Constitution) power grab that has "collected over $320 million (in three years) in unauthorized taxes from this massive regulatory program,...forcing New Yorkers to pay more for energy." Steve Lonegan called it a "job and economy destroying program...scheme" because of its effect on businesses' utility bills. These ten Northeastern states were the last remnant of the failed Cap and Trade federal legistation defeated on the national level.
Mr. Lonegan pointed out that jobs - and people - have fled New York state because of the combination of high utility rates and high taxes - an economically lethal cocktail. One could make the argument that recent increases in New York City rents voted into law are partially the result of increased taxes on energy within New York state.
This is the same measure that Gov. Christie of New Jersey recently stopped in his state, reducing the partners to nine states. Every other Northeast RGGI state participant required their legislature to pass the authorization. The "greenhouse gas" involved is carbon dioxide, something every plant needs and every human exhales. Yes, the State of New York has essentially taxed its citizens for breathing - and hasn't even put up to a vote. This measure is an attempt to beggar the average middle class taxpayer by raising their utility bill. By using American's for Prosperity's lawsuit, Steve Lonegan believes he can force New York politicians to publicly state their position on this rate hike during tough economic times and thus end RGGI's false, vaporous legal approval in New York and thus end RGGI throughout the Northest.
Lead Attorney Mark Smith, stated that over the next ten years, the continutation of this unauthorized tax would net the state One Billion Dollars. I would add this is truly an example of Taxation Without Representation.
"Our lawsuit is not pro Cap-and-Trade it's not against Cap-and-Trade. It is pro-democracy, pro representative government," Mr. Smith said on the courthouse steps. "Whether you like RGGI or dislike RGGI, the point is that the New York residents who pay this tax bill should be heard in the form of legislation."
Lisa Thrun then spoke and said that although she lives near a huge hydroelectric plant at Niagara Falls, local residents pay the third highest utility rates in the country and this needs to be stopped. Apparently this is New York politicians' version of "spread the poverty/"excuse me for breathing CO2" guilt among all residents of the Empire State, a state that has gone from 45 Congressional Districts after the 1950 Census and is now down to 29 Districts in the year 2012 as a result of residents fleeing high taxes that are essentially a penalty for achievement imposed on its citizens, both old and young. It's called "voting with your feet."
Steve Lonegan stated that the unauthorized carbon emission tax is "a clandestine tax used to prop up the (state) budget (in other areas)." In recent days, New York City bridge and tunnel tolls have been accused of being used in the same manner and not to improve the repair of transportation facilities. http://www.nypost.com/p/news/local/bridges_crumble_as_mta_tolls_soa...
"We think the case is strong. Major issues are dealt with by legislatures. It is basic American law for them to decide," said Atty. Mark Smith. He expects the case to be heard in three or four months.
Near the end of the conference, an environmentalist approached me on the courthouse steps with his business card. He said that wind and solar power were more economical than fossil fuels and he was an "expert." Rather than ask him if he were such an "expert," then why didn't he start his own company and find financial backers, I just frowned. In a way, his argument probably had something to do with the legality of energy rulings by state government fiat. Namely, I suspect his plan would be to have New York State subsidize underproductive windmill and solar energy - thus further bleeding taxpayers - and he could imagine the company was "profitable on its own." Rule by Government Fiat is precisely why people leave high tax states, whether in a government subsidized Fiat or another car.
Video of this press conference can be seen on YouTube at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nknOUhz9inA&feature=youtu.be
and at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cCj6CzuqU2k&feature=youtu.be