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U.S. Supreme Court Agrees to Consider Whether Utilities Can Be Sued In Tort For Global Warming

December 8, 2010

The ABA Journal reports that the Supreme Court has agreed to consider whether states can sue companies creating global warming by using the tort theory of nuisance.  The article follows:

Supreme Court to Consider Whether Utilities Can Be Sued in Tort for Global Warming

Posted Dec 6, 2010 9:50 AM CST
By Debra Cassens Weiss
The U.S. Supreme Court has agreed to decide whether states can use the tort theory of nuisance in a global warming lawsuit against four coal-burning power companies.

The Supreme Court agreed to review a ruling allowing the suit, according to SCOTUSblog, Bloomberg and Reuters. Greenwire had a preview of the case.

The suit by eight states, New York City and four land trusts seeks a reduction in the companies’ carbon-monoxide emissions. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the Obama administration are supporting the utilities.

Justice Sonia Sotomayor didn’t take part in the cert decision. She had served on the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals and heard arguments in the case. She didn’t take part in the panel decision allowing the suit, though, because it was issued after she was confirmed to the Supreme Court. Her recusal raises the possibility of a 4-4 decision in the Supreme Court.

Acting Solicitor General Neal Katyal had argued courts should defer to Congress and the executive branch on how to battle climate change. He had asked the Supreme Court to return the case to the appeals court in light of actions taken by the Environmental Protection Agency since the original ruling in the case.

The brief by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce said the 2nd Circuit decision “has staggering economic implications.”

The case is American Electric Power v. Connecticut


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