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AMERICAN ELECTRIC POWER CO. v. CONNECTICUT

Docket No.: 10-174
Certiorari Granted: 12/06/10
Argued: April 19, 2011
Decided: 06/20/11

Topics:

Article I, Clean Air Act, Clean Water, Clean Water Act, Commerce Clause, EPA, Environmental Protection Agency, Natural Resources, abuse of discretion, equitable relief, judicial review, preemption, separation of powers

PartyNames: American Electric Power Company, Inc., et al. v. Connecticut, et al.
Petitioner: American Electric Power Company, Inc., et al.
Respondent: Connecticut, et al.

Court Below: United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit
Citation: 582 F.3d 309

American Electric Power Company, Inc., et al.
v.
Connecticut, et al.
Background:

The court of appeals held that States and private plaintiffs may maintain actions under federal common law alleging that defendants - in this case, five electric utilities - have created a "public nuisance" by contributing to global warming, and may seek injunctive relief capping defendants' carbon dioxide emissions at judicially-determined levels.

Question Presented:

1. Whether States and private parties have standing to seek judicially-fashioned emissions caps on five utilities for their alleged contribution to harms claimed to arise from global climate change caused by more than a century of emissions by billions of independent sources. 2. Whether a cause of action to cap carbon dioxide emissions can be implied under federal common law where no statute creates such a cause of action, and the Clean Air Act speaks directly to the same subject matter and assigns federal responsibility for regulating such emissions to the Environmental Protection Agency. 3. Whether claims seeking to cap defendants' carbon dioxide emissions at "reasonable" levels, based on a court's weighing of the potential risks of climate change against the socioeconomic utility of defendants' conduct, would be governed by "judicially discoverable and manageable standards" or could be resolved without "initial policy determination[s] of a kind clearly for nonjudicial discretion." Baker v. Carr, 369 U.S. 186, 217 (1962).

Question:

(1) Can states and private parties seek to curb emissions on utilities for their alleged contribution to global climate change? (2) Can a cause of action to reduce carbon dioxide emissions be implied under federal common law?

Note:

JUSTICE SOTOMAYOR TOOK NO PART.

AMERICAN ELECTRIC POWER CO. v. CONNECTICUT
ORAL ARGUMENT

04/19/11

Listen to Oral Argument in AMERICAN ELECTRIC POWER CO. v. CONNECTICUT
Holding: reversed and remanded
Vote: 8-0
Recused: J.,
Opinion By:
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