Tuesday, June 21, 2011
Supreme Court Rules in Climate Change Nuisance Case
Today, the U.S. Supreme Court affirmed the Second Circuit's 2009 ruling that several States, the city of New York, and three land trusts had standing to challenge utilities that constitute the nation's largest contributors of greenhouse gas emissions. On behalf of Defenders of Wildlife and other conservation organizations, we had filed an amicus brief focusing on the standing issues raised in the case. On the merits, however, the Court reversed the Second Circuit, holding that the Clean Air Act and actions taken by the EPA pursuant to the Act displace federal common law suits because the executive branch is actively addressing the nuisance of climate change and such suits could hinder EPA's ability to exercise its judgment in fashioning rules necessary to curb climate change. On remand, the Court instructed the Second Circuit to consider whether the plaintiffs' claims brought under state nuisance laws are viable - claims which the Supreme Court declined to reach. The opinion can be found here: http://www.supremecourt.gov/opinions/10pdf/10-174.pdf. Our amicus brief can be found here: http://www.americanbar.org/content/dam/aba/publishing/previewbriefs/Other_Brief_Updates/10-174_respondentamcu3wildlifegrps.authcheckdam.pdf.