State AG Appeals Dismissal of Climate Change Suit

By Published On: September 23, 2005

California attorney general Bill Lockyer appealed a federal court ruling September 20 that rejected a suit he filed with seven other state attorneys general to stem greenhouse gas emissions from the nation?s largest power plant polluters. The U.S. Southern District Court of New York held that the joint lawsuits seeking to force American Electric Power and three other owners of Eastern coal-fired plants to cut carbon dioxide emissions on public nuisance claims raised “non justiciable political questions.” “Obviously, the issue of greenhouse gas emissions has political implications, but the court has jurisdiction and responsibility to address the issue of CO2 impacts on the people and economy of the state of California,” said Ken Alex, California deputy attorney general. The federal court dismissed the suits filed by California, Connecticut, New York, Iowa, New Jersey, Rhode Island, Vermont, and Wisconsin September 15. The companies together are said to emit 25 percent of the CO2 pollution from U.S. utilities. “We consider the suit a nuisance,” said Pat Hemlepp, AEP spokesperson. Another company named in the suit, Cinergy, said it was confident that the court dismissal “will stand up on appeal,” according to company spokesperson Steve Brash. Hemlepp added that it was “ludicrous that the company was targeted” because AEP committed to reducing its carbon dioxide emissions by 4 percent by 2006 from baseline levels of 1998-2001. It also committed last month to cutting greenhouse gas emissions by 10 percent by 2010 and joined the Chicago Climate Change Exchange last month, he noted. The exchange is the country?s first voluntary greenhouse gas emissions reduction and trading program. “Generally, voluntary programs do not set a meaningful baseline, such as using actual 2000 emissions,” Alex said. He added that there are also questions about whether the credits are real. “If a company is willing to do reductions voluntarily, why wouldn’t it support requirements applicable to the entire industry, creating incentives, obligations, and an even playing field?” he asked. Limiting greenhouse gas emissions caps to U.S. businesses would subject AEP and others to “unfair competition” from industrialized countries not subject to CO2 limitations, according to Hemlepp. AEP would, however, support an international program that involved mandatory reductions for businesses in developed and industrializing nations – -a Kyoto II, which “levels the playing field globally,” he added

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