Opinion

Memo to the Gov: Climate change settlement left egg on your face

After delivering my wife and me our fifth grandchild on Oct. 28, my daughter-in-law relayed that the pain and discomfort of pregnancy and delivery were inconsequential in view of the results it brought forth — that of a healthy, happy baby boy.

Though I will never know issues of pregnancy and delivery firsthand, I can nevertheless appreciate her perspective on priorities.

A week earlier, my fellow plaintiffs and I successfully settled our lawsuit against Washington Gov. Christine Gregoire, even though we had earlier labored unsuccessfully for a preliminary injunction.

In denying our Oct. 8 motion, Thurston County Superior Court Judge Paula Casey nevertheless delivered us our victory, which made all else irrelevant.

In a press release of Oct. 22, Gregoire stated she was “delighted” with the dismissal of our lawsuit, that she “couldn’t be more pleased with the result of the order,” and that she did “not understand why this lawsuit was brought.”

Before clarifying for an uncomprehending governor the purpose of our lawsuit, I will comment that I find it odd that she “couldn’t be more pleased” with the judge’s order — unless, that is, she didn’t understand it, either.

Not only did the judge remove the wind from the governor’s sails, but even the Attorney General’s office charged in court with defending the governor’s earlier actions seemed to cast a figurative egg in her direction.

Indeed, our case challenged the governor’s ability to bypass the Legislature to unilaterally issue binding orders upon executive departments; it was not a referendum on whether the agencies had authority to act on a particular topic by prior legislative authorization.

When the judge declared the governor’s executive order was not binding law, but only a non-binding “directive,” the purpose of our lawsuit was upheld, even though the injunction was actually denied for reasons more involved than are here important.

Executive agencies had to look to prior legislative authority to act; the order did not change their actual authority.

Overall, the judge’s ruling was far from a ringing endorsement of the governor’s earlier grandstanding, or of her boldly going where no Legislature had gone before.

My own perspective on the ruling was that the governor’s actions were simply held as thunderous hot air, blown about for effect, rather than substance — not unlike the seemingly powerful Wizard of Oz, in fact.

The Evergreen Freedom Foundation, through its attorney Mike Reitz, who represented us, sniffed about and, smelling something amiss much like Toto, pulled back the curtain to expose the imposing wizard as but a giant hoax.

The particulars of the case involved Gregoire’s actions after her favored cap-and-trade climate-change bill failed to generate sufficient energy to overcome resistance in the 2009 Legislature.

Not one to let legislative defeat stop her, on May 21, 2009, Gov. Gregoire signed Executive Order 09-05, which, in the words of the Department of Ecology’s then-director Jay Manning, “accomplishes what the bill would have authorized and more.”

The order, according to a confidential Governor’s Decision Document, sought to add “several significant directives that make the EO more significant, more attractive to those interested in making progress on climate change and more controversial for those not so inclined.”

Gregoire defiantly declared during her signing ceremony that, “What we’ve done in the executive order is everything in the final bill that did not pass the Legislature.”

Her press release stated, “We can’t further delay action on climate change.”

As argued by the Attorney General’s office and confirmed by Judge Casey, our governor does not possess awe-inspiring power to unilaterally act in place of the Legislature.

Though cap-and-trade is a top priority for those clamoring to extend government power, attempts to bypass the legislative branch are indefensible and, in fact, tyranny.

Perhaps Gregoire should avoid water when cleansing herself of the fallout from this lawsuit; the green tinge from the spoiled egg that landed upon her makes her resemble another villain in the 1939 cinematic adaptation of L. Frank Baum’s wonderful 1900 book.

Matt Erickson was one of six plaintiffs in the Thurston County Superior Court case Erickson, et al., v. Gregoire, et al. Originally from Vancouver, he currently resides in Wenatchee and is founder and president of the Patriot Corps and the Foundation For Liberty.

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