Tag Archives: Patrick Lynch

2nd Circuit Allows State’s Lawsuit on Global Warming to Move Forward

Attorney General Patrick Lynch heralded yesterday’s ruling by the Federal Court of Appeals in New York as another significant victory to force America’s five biggest global warming polluters to curb their emissions.

The ruling by the Second Circuit Court of Appeals represents another win in a lawsuit filed by Lynch and seven other state attorneys general almost six years ago against the nation’s highest-emitting electric power companies. The lawsuit is the first ever brought by state attorneys general against private companies to force reductions in heat-trapping carbon dioxide emissions.

The multi-state global warming case is now headed for a major trial in US District Court in New York unless the power industry is successful in first obtaining a ruling from the United States Supreme Court. If the case goes to trial, Lynch said, the theory of man-made climate change could be tested in a battle of experts.

“We can avoid a lengthy court battle if the profit-driven energy industry giants cease fighting change in the halls of Congress and support new regulations that are so crucial to the sustainability of our environment and our planet,” Lynch said. “The emissions from the defendant companies amount to nearly a quarter of emissions from the electric utility industry in our nation, and approximately 10 percent of all emissions in the entire United States. The federal lawsuit we filed in 2004, using nuisance law to force carbon reductions, does not seek monetary damages but calls on the companies to reduce their pollution. The nuisance created by carbon dioxide directly threatens Rhode Island’s public health and safety, economy, coastline, fisheries and tourism – indeed our very way of life. It’s time for reason, and respect for our fragile environment, to prevail.”

In September 2009, in a victory at the frontiers of the law, Lynch and his seven colleagues obtained a decision against the power industry in the fight to reduce greenhouse gases contributing to global warming. Last September’s ruling in favor of the states from a two-judge panel of the Second Circuit Court of Appeals was a sweeping reversal of a previous ruling by a trial court that dismissed the case at the outset. That ruling by the Second Circuit determined that a federal lawsuit can proceed unless and until there is action directly regulating greenhouse gases under the current Clean Air Act or new climate legislation. Yesterday, the full panel of 21 judges affirmed the September 2009 ruling in an order refusing to rehear the case.

The companies named in the lawsuit are American Electric Power Company, the Southern company, Tennessee Valley Authority, Xcel Energy Inc. and Cinergy Corporation. At the time the suit was filed in 2004, these entities owned or operated 174 fossil fuel-burning power plants in 20 states and emitted 650 million tons of carbon dioxide every year.

The plaintiff states, in addition to Rhode Island, are California, Connecticut, Iowa, New Jersey, New York, Vermont and Wisconsin. The City of New York also is a plaintiff.

New Rasmussen Poll Shows Chafee Leading Governor’s Race

A new Rasmussen poll shows some distinct results from two other recent polls on the Rhode Island’s governor race: a Brown University poll and a WPRI / Fleming poll.  Let’s compare them (h/t RIFuture).

Rasmussen Poll (February 25, 2010)

  • Chafee: 37%; Caprio: 27%; Robitaille: 19%; Not Sure: 17%
  • Chafee: 38%; Lynch: 24%; Robitaille: 22%; Not Sure: 16%

Brown University Poll (February 9-12, 2010)

  • Chafee: 33.8%; Caprio: 28.3%; Robitaille: 12.1%; Don’t Know: 25.8%
  • Chafee: 32.9%; Lynch: 17.7%; Robitaille: 13.7%; Don’t Know: 35.6%

WPRI Poll (January 27-31, 2010)

  • Chafee = 31%; Caprio = 30%; Robitaille = 13%; Not sure / Refused = 25%
  • Chafee = 34%; Lynch = 23%; Robitaille = 18%; Not sure / Refused = 25%

Obviously, the different voters targeted in these polls and how the pollsters communicated with these voters – as well as the time gap – contributes to the difference in the polling numbers.  See this story by prominent polling analyst Nate Silver about Rasmussen polling bias for example.  But some trends are clear.

  • Chafee has a small lead in the general election regardless of his Democratic opponent.  It will be interesting to see if the entrance of Ken Block as the Moderate Party candidate pulls any support away from Chafee (Block wasn’t included in any of the above polls).
  • Caprio has a small lead in the Democratic Primary and also fares better against Chafee than does Lynch.  With Caprio’s significant fundraising advantage and the recent departure of Lynch’s campaign manager, it will be interesting to see if Lynch can turn his campaign ship around.

Fundraising in the 2010 Rhode Island Attorney General’s Race

Ian Donnis at WRNI reports that Joseph Fernandez and Peter Kilmartin are leading the fundraising race in the 2010 campaign for Rhode Island Attorney General.

Fernandez spokeswoman Rose Jackson, using a ballpark figure, says the former Providence city solicitor raised about $65,000 in Q4, and has about $155,000 on hand, from more than 550 contributors.

(…)

Reached by phone late last week, Kilmartin said he is “still working toward that goal” of launching a campaign for AG. The state rep from Pawtucket said he did not know his precise figures for Q4, but estimated his cash on hand at “in the six figures.” That would mean Kilmartin must have pulled in more than $45,000 in Q4, since his campaign balance was $54,967 as of last September 30. Kilmartin has not returned subsequent phone calls seeking more precise information.

Steve Archambault, meanwhile, raised about $40,000 in Q4, including $25,000 from the candidate himself, according to campaign manager Rob Horowitz. That leaves about $64,000 on hand. Archambault this week released some ideas regarding fighting drunk driving.

Donnis also notes that RI Democratic Party chairman William Lynch says he plans to decide “within the next month or so” whether to run for AG and that Republican AG candidate Erik Wallin declined to release Q4 numbers in advance of the state filing deadline in February.

Federal Prosecutor Gerard Sullivan Agrees to Plea Deal in Traffic Court

The Providence Journal reports that federal prosecutor Gerard B. Sullivan agreed to a plea deal in which he admitted that he refused to submit to a chemical breath test when the Warwick police arrested him Thanksgiving morning under suspicion of driving under the influence of alcohol and the attorney general’s office agreed to drop two other motor-vehicle violations he was charged with the night he was arrested: not abiding by a laned roadway and not using a turn signal.

As part of the plea agreement, Sullivan’s driver’s license will be suspended for seven months, from the time he surrendered it on Dec. 22. Magistrate Domenic A. DiSandro III had ordered Sullivan to turn over his license when he was in court Dec. 18.

Sullivan appeared at the Traffic Tribunal with his lawyer, Kevin J. Bristow, who told DiSandro that Sullivan is enrolled in an alcohol-treatment program. Because of that program, DiSandro did not order Sullivan to attend the safe-driving school that other motorists must enroll in when faced with a similar charge.

DiSandro also ordered Sullivan to perform 40 hours of public community service and to pay fines and fees totaling $1,135.

Sullivan was one of eight people charged by the Warwick police over Thanksgiving weekend with refusing to submit to a chemical breath test, a motor-vehicle violation. He was the only one of those eight who was not also charged with driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs, a criminal misdemeanor.

Sullivan was later charged with driving under the influence after The Journal and Warwick Police Chief Stephen M. McCartney reviewed the arrest reports for all eight drivers suspected of drunken driving Thanksgiving weekend. McCartney, who did not know Sullivan had been arrested until The Journal called him after the holiday weekend, has launched an internal review.

While this civil matter has closed, the criminal case against Sullivan is still pending.

Federal prosecutor Gerard B. Sullivan on Tuesday sought dismissal in District Court of a charge of driving while under the influence of alcohol.

Sullivan, an assistant U.S. attorney, a day earlier had admitted in state traffic court that he failed to take a chemical breath test when arrested on Thanksgiving by the Warwick police.

Sullivan sat in the front row during Tuesday’s District Court appearance as a city prosecutor and Sullivan’s lawyer, Kevin J. Bristow, approached the bench three times to discuss the case in subdued whispers.

Shortly after noon, the first public comment about the case came from Judge Frank J. Cenerini, who said the case has been continued until Monday at the request of both sides.

Sen. Raptakis to Challenge Sec. of State Ralph Mollis

While Ian Donnis at WRNI reported that State Senator Lou Raptakis (D-33) is rumored to be running for Secretary of State or General Treasurer, it has now come to my attention that Raptakis has indeed made a decision and will be challenging incumbent Democratic Secretary of State A. Ralph Mollis in the September 14, 2010 Democratic Primary.

In addition to his new campaign website, Raptakis2010.com, Raptakis is currently calling prominent Democrats in an effort to raise money and he’s asserting that he’s indeed running for Secretary of State.  As of October 1, 2009, Raptakis had $32k in his campaign account versus $16k for the incumbent Mollis.

And, while there is no known Republican candidate running for this seat currently, Raptakis would definitely look to tack to the right of Mollis.  For example, Raptakis has signed the Taxpayer “Pledge” created by conservative leader Grover Norquist.  In addition, Raptakis last year called for the ouster of Democratic Senate President Teresa Paiva-Weed.  Further, Raptakis has advocated legislation to reduce funding for public art.

Thus, 2010 looks to be quite a combative year for Rhode Island Democrats.  In addition to the Secretary of State’s race, there will be competitive primaries in several other statewide races:

Governor

  • Frank Caprio
  • Patrick Lynch

Attorney General

  • Steve Archambault
  • Joseph Fernandez
  • Peter Kilmartin

General Treasurer

  • Tom Sgouros
  • Gina Raimondo
  • Stephen Costantino
  • William Walaska

AG Patrick Lynch Launches Campaign Website for Gubernatorial Campaign

Earlier this week, Rhode Island Attorney General Patrick Lynch launched a new campaign web site, www.lynch2010.com.

“I am committed to running a modern campaign and using the Internet to inform voters and to recruit and mobilize supporters and potential supporters,” Lynch said. “Most importantly, it’s a great resource for supporters and potential supporters to learn about me and my campaign. I hope everyone visits often.”

The new site solidifies his entrance into the race for Governor: a field that currently includes General Treasurer Frank Caprio (D) as well as former US Senator Lincoln Chafee (I) and perennial candidate Bob Healey (I)Former Cranston Mayor Steve Laffey is also rumored to be building a campaign.  The newly formed Moderate Party is also expected to field a candidate.

One of the features of the new campaign website is a lengthy campaign video outlining Lynch’s message and his approach to the gubernatorial race:

State of Rhode Island Loses LNG Appeal at the First Circuit

In a big loss to Attorney General and gubernatorial candidate Patrick Lynch (who has made his anti-LNG stance a big campaign issue), the First Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that the state’s Coastal Resources Management Council forfeited its ability to oppose a controversial LNG proposal to bring supertankers up Narragansett Bay by failing to timely make a decision on the proposal.  Here’s the beginning of the opinion authored by Chief Judge Sandra Lynch:

The Rhode Island Coastal Resources Management Council (“CRMC”) challenges a decision by the federal district court, which has rejected two regulatory barriers CRMC imposed to plans to build a Liquified Natural Gas (“LNG”) terminal in the City of Fall River with a berth in Massachusetts coastal waters of Mount Hope Bay. Weaver’s Cove Energy, LLC (“Weaver’s Cove”) is the sponsor of the LNG terminal. Weaver’s Cove Energy, LLC v. R.I. Coastal Res. Mgmt. Council, 583 F. Supp. 2d 259 (D.R.I. 2008). The barriers, which CRMC has attempted to impose, are to necessary dredging by Weaver’s Cove in Rhode Island navigable waters, in a federal navigation channel. The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (“FERC”) generally approved the project in 2005, subject to certain conditions. Until those conditions are met, Weaver’s Cove cannot start construction. The Commonwealth of Massachusetts, joined by the City of Fall River, has filed a brief as amicus curiae in support of CRMC.

We address three main issues. The first is whether we have Article III jurisdiction to decide these matters. The second is whether the district court erred in holding that CRMC’s failure to respond within six months to Weaver’s Cove’s application for federal consistency review requires there be a presumption of concurrence in the project, pursuant to 16 U.S.C. § 1456(c)(3)(A) of the Coastal Zone Management Act of 1972 (“CZMA”). The third is whether CRMC’s use of its state law licensing program for alterations to the coast, 04-000-010 R.I. Code R. §§ 100.1, 300.1, to block the project is preempted by the Natural Gas Act (“NGA”).

For the reasons set forth below, we affirm the district court’s decision.

Attorney General Patrick Lynch Joins AG Letter to FedEx

Rhode Island Attorney General Patrick Lynch has joined 7 other state’s Attorneys General in writing to Fed Ex and urging them to properly classify their workers as employees rather than independent contractors.

Thirty states are investigating FedEx Ground to determine if the company is misclassifying FedEx drivers as independent contractors through its owner-operator model. And more than 45 class-action lawsuits have been filed in state and federal courts against the company’s classification of drivers.

In a joint letter Thursday to FedEx, the eight attorneys general cited shared concerns about workers’ compensation and unemployment insurance, wage-and-hour laws and protection of workers’ civil rights.

“Each of our states has a responsibility under our respective laws to protect a broad range of interests associated with the employment status of an individual,” said the letter sent jointly by Montana’s Attorney General Steve Bullock and attorneys general from Iowa, Kentucky, Missouri, New Jersey, Ohio, Rhode Island and Vermont.

The letter said the eight states have formed a working group to address changes in FedEx Ground’s business model to ensure proper classification of workers.

A FedEx spokesman in Memphis, Tenn., did not immediately return a phone call seeking comment.

Obviously, if these employees are properly labeled as employees, then they will have collective bargaining rights.

Rhode Island’s 2010 Attorney General Race

In addition to the vacant RI judgeships discussed here, here, here and here, the Rhode Island legal community is awash in speculation about who is lining up to run for Attorney General in 2010.  The current Attorney General, Patrick Lynch, is term-limited and running for Governor.

Here is a list of possible candidates whose names have been circulating for the AG’s race (in alphabetical order):

      Just like 1998, this could be the most exciting race in the Primary Election.