Federal Court Announces That Plaintiffs May Bring Nuisance Claims Against Power Plants for Global Warming

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On September 21, 2009, the Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit ruled that plaintiffs may bring federal nuisance claims against owners of power plants.

In 2004, eight states, New York City and three private land trusts (hereinafter the “Plaintiffs”) filed suit against six electric power corporations that own and operate fossil-fuel-fired power plants in 20 states (hereinafter the “Defendants”). Plaintiffs alleged that Defendants, as the largest emitters of carbon dioxide in the United States, are contributing to global warming and causing serious harm affecting human health and natural resources. Plaintiffs brought suit under the federal common law of nuisance to force Defendants to cap and then reduce their carbon dioxide emissions.

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