The U.S. Supreme Court announced it will hear a landmark greenhouse gas lawsuit.
In American Electric Power v. Connecticut, utility companies are challenging a lower court decision that allows states and environmental groups to file public nuisance laswuits to force power generators to cut their greenhouse gas emissions.
American Electric Power (NYSE: AEP) is joined in the suit by Duke Energy (NYSE: DUK), Southern Co., (NYSE: SO), Xcel Energy (NYSE: XEL) and the Tennessee Valley Authority.
According to Politico.com, the Supreme Court's decision to hear the case is a win for the utilities. In part, because the Obama administration has asked the Court to throw out the lower court decision, stating that the EPA is in the process of limiting green house gas emissions through regulation.
However, as David Doniger notes on the NRDC blog, the EPA regulations would only apply to increases in carbon pollution from new and expanded plants, not existing sources of pollution. And, as we all know, Republicans and numerous industry groups are doing everything they can to block the new regulations from taking effect in January.
As a result, nuisance lawsuits are an important tool for safeguarding states’ rights to relief from interstate air and water pollution.
Justice Sotomayor recused herself from the Supreme Court's decision to hear the case, because she participated in the Second Circuit decision before joining the Supreme Court earlier this year.
Her absence could very well lead to a split 4-4 tie, which would leave the lower court decision in effect.
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