The Corner

New Hot Suits

Today, eight state attorneys general will announce a lawsuit against five of the nation’s largest utilities charging that they are creating a “public nuisance” due to their emisisons of carbon dioxide. This is yet another suit seeking to bypass the legislative process and force the regulation of greenhouse gases through litigation. (I wrote about the prior suits here.) If the draft press release circulating around is accurate, this suit is particualrly outrageous. It seeks a court order to require the relevant utilities to reduce their emissions under the federal common law of public nuisance — an ambitious claim, to say the least. Unless the state AGs have come up with a particularly ingeneous legal theory, this suit is nothing more than a publicity stunt. Even if the AGs could win, and manged to shut down the targetted utilities completely, this would not abate the alleged nuisance, as atmospheric concentrations of carbon dioxide and predicted climate change would scarcely be affected at all.

Jonathan H. Adler — Mr. Adler is an NRO contributing editor and the inaugural Johan Verheij Memorial Professor of Law at Case Western Reserve University School of Law. His latest book is Marijuana Federalism: Uncle Sam and Mary Jane.

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