Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Federal Appeals Court Rules Global Warming A Public Nuisance

The Warming Law blog reports that the Second Circuit Court of Appeals in New York yesterday issued a ruling that greenhouse gas emissions by 6 power companies are a public nuisance. The companies had been sued in 2004 by 8 states, the City of New York, and several environmental organizations. The suit (State of Connecticut, et al. v. American Electric Power Company Inc., et al.) had previously been dismissed by the District Court on the basis that it was about a political question. The Circuit Court reversed that position and sent the case back for further litigation. Warming Law plans to provide further analysis, but its initial reaction is:
First, this opinion is pretty stunning, coming as it does from two Bush appointees to the Second Circuit, both in terms of the power of its recognition that global warming is a crisis and in its insistence that courts can play a role, through the use of nuisance law, in addressing the crisis. Following on the heels of the Supreme Court’s ruling in Mass v. EPA and coming at a time when EPA is moving steadily forward in using its Clean Air Act regulatory authority to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, it is a powerful reminder to politicians in Washington that the train has left the station in terms of efforts to address global warming, and if Congress wants to lead this effort, and make sure we have a comprehensive and market-based solution, it better act soon.
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