Supreme Court questions GHG lawsuit

The U.S. Supreme Court heard arguments April 19 over whether to end a lawsuit over regulating emissions that affect global warming. The dispute centers around whether states should be allowed to sue electric utilities to cut greenhouse gas emissions from power plants. Six states, New York City and three conservation groups filed suit against four power generators and the Tennessee Valley Authority.

Justices questioned whether a federal judge could deal with the complex issue of global warming, a topic they suggested is better left to Congress and the Environmental Protection Agency, the Associated Press reported.

The six states suing are California, Connecticut, Iowa, New York, Rhode Island and Vermont. New Jersey and Wisconsin withdrew from the original lawsuit.

The AP said the Obama administration joined with American Electric Power, Cinergy Co. (a unit of Duke Energy), Southern Co., Xcel Energy and TVA in asking the high court to throw out the lawsuit. The administration said EPA already is considering setting emission standards that would accomplish what the states are seeking.

The court’s decision is expected by June.

Lawyers representing the states said the court should block the lawsuit only if the EPA actually issues regulation.

The case is the second climate change dispute at the court in four years, the AP said. In 2007, the court declared that carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases are air pollutants under the Clean Air Act.

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