Torts Keyed to Henderson
American Electric Power Company, Inc. v. Connecticut
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Plaintiffs include eight states, New York City, and three non-profit land trusts. Defendants are four private electric power companies and the federally owned Tennessee Valley Authority. Defendants owned and operated fossil-fuel-fired power plants in multiple states. Plaintiffs separately filed lawsuits against Defendants in federal district court claiming Defendants’ power plants’ emission of carbon dioxide contributed to global warming and that these emissions substantially and unreasonably interfered with public rights, therefore violating the federal common law of interstate nuisance, or state tort law. Plaintiffs sought injunctive relief in the form of carbon dioxide emission caps and further specific reductions each year for at least 10 years. The United States District Court for the Southern District of New York found these were non-justiciable questions per the political questions doctrine and dismissed. Plaintiffs appealed. United States Court of Appeals of the Second Circuit vacated and remanded, finding the federal common law was not displaced by the Clean Air Act, noting specifically that the Environmental Protection Agency did not yet have a rule in place to regulate greenhouse gases. United States Supreme Court granted certiorari.
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