Lawyers often get a bad press but this story, linked to here, shows that it looks as if it is possible for governments to sue power utilities for using too many fossil fuels even if the government itself has taken no action to reduce emissions themselves. Here’s an extract:
“The lawsuit against American Electric Power Co Inc, Southern Co, Xcel Energy Inc, Cinergy Corp and the Tennessee Valley Authority public power system, argued that greenhouse gas emissions from their plants were a public nuisance and would cause irreparable harm to property.
The utilities are five of the largest carbon dioxide emitters in the United States. Around 40 percent of U.S. carbon dioxide emissions come from fossil-fueled power plants.
Lawyers or representatives of the companies were either not immediately available to comment or could not immediately be reached for comment on the decision.
The top legal officers for Connecticut and New York welcomed the decision.
“Our goal is not money damages, but a change in company practices to stem the pollution and safeguard our environment and economy,” Connecticut Attorney General Richard Blumenthal said in a statement.”
The importance of this ruling is that failure of Congress or the EPA to act on greenhouse gases will not immunise emitters from legal action to compel reductions in emissions. This could be huge!