Monday, June 20, 2011

U.S. Supreme Court rejects nuisance claim due to preemption on AEP v.Connecticut case

(Image by Claimer.org).  
On 20 June 2011, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the Clean Air Act and the empowerment of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) disables the use of the federal common law of nuisance to limit carbon dioxide emissions. This ruling does not affect law suits aiming to obtain monitory compensation for damages created through the release of those emissions. Therefor a chance of obtaining compensation for climate change damage claims in a U.S. court may still exist.

The Supreme Court's decision was nearly the same as the 2007 decision in Massachusetts v. EPA, where the court decided that the Clean Air Act give the decision making power for environmental affairs and the laws that govern it to the EPA. Thus their decisions over power federal common law rights to issue injunctions to stop fossil fuel powered electrical power plants from releasing carbon-dioxide emissions. If the EPA and their team of experts decide not to make laws to regulate carbon dioxide, then the courts have “no warrant to employ the federal common law of nuisance to upset the agency's expert determination.”

However, this ruling does not deal with the issue of compensation. Just as in the case of the Hurricane Katrina class action re-launch, damage claims can still be made.

A comment on the ruling of the U.S. Supreme Court to dismiss the case American Electric Power Co., Inc.. v. Connecticut can be found here. A breakdown of what this means for climate change lawsuits can be found at climatelawyers.com.

Update: read more about the next big case, the hurricane Katrina relaunch

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