"States Can Sue Utilities Over Emissions"

"A two-judge panel of a federal appeals court has ruled that big power companies can be sued by states and land trusts for emitting carbon dioxide. The decision, issued Monday, overturns a 2005 District Court decision that the question was political, not judicial.

A panel of the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, in New York, ruled that eight states — California, Connecticut, Iowa, New Jersey, New York, Rhode Island, Vermont and Wisconsin — as well as New York City and three land trusts could proceed with a suit against American Electric Power, Southern Corporation, the Tennessee Valley Authority, Xcel Energy and Cinergy Corporation, all large coal-burning utilities.

The case, brought in 2004, said the defendants were creating a “public nuisance” and sought reductions in emissions that scientists say are changing the climate. The states cited studies from the United Nations and the National Academy of Sciences that predicted damage and said in fact that their environments had already been damaged. The land trusts said that an increase in sea level would inundate their properties, among other problems."

Matthew L. Wald reports for the New York Times September 21, 2009.

Source: NYTimes, 09/22/2009