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Supreme Court should reject climate change nuisance suit

The Supreme Court is set to hear arguments in American Electric Power Co., Inc. v. Connecticut, an unprecedented “public nuisance” lawsuit brought against energy companies. The courts are hardly the place to set broad policy on climate change. Even Obama agrees.

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On April 19, the Supreme Court will hear argument in American Electric Power Co., Inc. v. Connecticut, an unprecedented “public nuisance” lawsuit brought against several of the nation’s largest coal-fired utilities that allegedly contribute to global warming. The dispute is part of a fundamental debate over whether to combat climate change with government policies or lawsuits.

The case has the attention of business and environmental interests – and should concern the broader public – because the plaintiffs ask judges, rather than elected officials or executive branch appointees, to set economic, energy, and environmental policy.

American Electric Power Co., Inc. v. Connecticut arrived at the Supreme Court last year after the US Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit allowed a coalition of eight states, environmental groups, and New York City to proceed with a lawsuit attempting to force American Electric Power Co. Inc., Duke Energy Corp., Southern Co., Xcel Energy Inc., and the Tennessee Valley Authority to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions.

A novel and aggressive case

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