David Schnare, the Director of Environmental Law Center at the American Tradition Institute and lead attorney in a lawsuit (ATI v. Epel) against Colorado’s 30 percent renewable energy mandate said in an interview on the Amy Oliver Show on Thursday that global warming will be put on trial when he argues that the mandate violates the commerce clause of the U.S. Constitution.
Fresh off his court appearance in Denver on Tuesday, Schnare, explained that Colorado’s renewable energy mandate violates the commerce clause in two ways.
The first is what Schnare calls a “facial” violation. Colorado’s mandate provides preferences for electricity from renewable sources that originate in Colorado. It’s commonly called the multiplier. Every megawatt of electricity from a renewable source inside Colorado is counted as 1.25 megawatts. The same electricity from producers in other states enjoys no such preference. Since Colorado is part of multi-state grid, the multiplier is a significant and unfair advantage in favor of Colorado-produced electricity.
Schnare explained with this analogy, “7.5 apples in Colorado are not equal to 10 apples in another state.”
Apparently Attorney General John Suthers, whose office is charged with defending the mandate, knows that as well. Schnare said it was the AG’s office that tried to get legislation to repeal the multiplier passed at the end of the 2012 session because if the state loses then it has to pay all the attorneys’ fees and costs associated with the lawsuit.
While the bill SB12-178 died last year, Schnare believes a similar bill will pass this year, which brings us to the second violation that Schnare calls a “balancing test” question. Is the harm to interstate commerce greater than the local benefit? Schnare argues that the mandate does not provide any benefit. In fact just the opposite is true.
Under the mandate:
- Electricity cost go up (we prove that here)
- The environment is not improved
- Water isn’t conserved
- The grid is more unstable
- Power generation is more insecure
Much of the renewable energy advocates’ argument in favor of the mandate is the necessity to minimize the negative impacts of man-made global warming. But Schnare suggests, that if global warming is real, then Colorado stands to benefit because it will get more rainfall. So attempts to mitigate global warming will actually cause more harm than good.
Schnare will be back in district court in Denver on May 1, 2013, at which time he expects a timeline for discovery and a trial date, which is good news since this lawsuit was filed originally in April 2011.
Players in the case:
- David Schnare, lead attorney for plaintiffs
- Attorney General John Suthers, lead attorney for defendants/state of Colorado
- Joshua Epel, Chairman of the Public Utilities Commission and defendant.
- Ron Lueck, plaintiff, ATI member, and resident of Morrison, Colorado.
- William Yeatman , Independence Institute energy policy analyst and expert witness for the plaintiffs.
- Sierra Club’s Earth Justice, World Wild Life Federation, and Environment Colorado providing much of the research for the state.
- Judge William Martinez assigned judge.
To read all documents related to the case, click here.