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Chamber Urges Court to Stay Out of Global Warming Debate

Wednesday, March 1, 2006 - 7:00pm

WASHINGTON, D.C.—Courts are ill suited to make public policy decisions on global warming, and should stay out of the debate – according to an amicus brief filed today in the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit by the National Chamber Litigation Center (NCLC) in State of Connecticut, et al. v. American Electric Power et al. and Open Space Institute, et al. v. American Electric Power et al.

"Mischaracterizing global warming as a 'public nuisance' opens a Pandora's box," said NCLC's Senior Vice President Robin Conrad. "Will plaintiffs be allowed to sue under public nuisance laws any industry engaged in lawful activities simply because someone found their activities offensive or inconvenient? That's what is at stake in this case."

Attorney's general from eight states—California, Connecticut, Iowa, New Jersey, New York, Rhode Island, Vermont, and Wisconsin—and the City of New York sued several of the nation's leading utility companies under public nuisance laws, which were designed to protect property owners from the actions of their neighbors. The plaintiffs claim carbon dioxide emissions travel across state boundaries and are asking the utilities to cut their carbon dioxide emissions by at least 3% per year for 10 years. A federal court in New York dismissed the suit as being ill-suited for the courts to decide. The federal government has declined to regulate carbon dioxide and the utilities' emissions are in compliance with all laws.

"While the plaintiffs are not asking for monetary compensation, they are pushing for regulation that would force numerous energy-providing companies to implement costly measures and lead to price increases for all American consumers," said Conrad.

The U.S. Chamber is the world's largest business federation representing more than 3 million businesses and organizations of every size, sector, and region. The National Chamber Litigation Center is a membership organization that advocates fair treatment of business in the courts and before regulatory agencies.

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