Apr. 18, 2011 Supreme Court to hear GHG case

Power companies are appealing a 2009 ruling that allows them to be sued by victims of their greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.

Plaintiffs including eight states as well as New York City successfully won a case against large utilities including American Electric Power, Duke Energy, and the Tennessee Valley Authority, charging that they have created a national crisis by contributing to global warming.

Power companies have countered by arguing that suits against them would raise the price of electricity, also contending that only the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has the authority to enforce GHG regulations.

The EPA began regulating GHGs under the federal Clean Air Act this year, and should they begin controlling GHG emissions attorneys representing the plaintiffs have acknowledged they would drop the case.

Supreme Court Justice Sonya Sotomayor was a member of the original panel that heard the case and has recused herself from the appeal.

Without her input, the Supreme Court will likely split 4-4, upholding the original verdict in favor of the plaintiffs.