California and five other states plan to defend their authority to challenge polluting power plant operations before the U.S. Supreme Court on April 19. The states seek to retain their ability under a lower court ruling to sue electric power plant operators under federal common law on grounds their greenhouse gas emissions create a \u201cpublic nuisance\u201d by contributing to global warming. The court case--American Electric Power Company v. Connecticut--stems from an action brought by the states against five utilities that operate coal power plants. In that litigation, states asked a federal judge to cap utility carbon dioxide emissions. Utilities claimed the states did not have standing to file the suit--a contention with which the trial court agreed. The states then appealed to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit. That court ruled states could press their suits. It subsequently turned down an appeal by utilities for a rehearing. Utilities, including the federal Tennessee Valley Authority, then petitioned the Supreme Court for a review. Justices granted review Dec. 6, 2010. In doing so, the court said it plans to decide whether states have standing to sue for greenhouse gas caps, whether federal common law provides for a cause of action in the absence of any federal greenhouse gas statute, and whether a court can determine a \u201creasonable\u201d cap on emissions based on \u201cjudicially discoverable and manageable standards\u201d or whether it requires \u201cinitial policy determination[s]\u201d to settle the matter. Before being appointed, Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor sat on the Appeals Court for the Second Circuit in New York. She has recused herself from the Supreme Court case. * * * * * The House passed a continuing resolution March 15 to fund the federal government for another three weeks until April 8. The bill--which was expected to be enacted at press time--cuts $6 billion in spending over the three weeks, including funds for a number of federal global warming programs. The cuts \u201ccontinue our efforts to rein in spending and put a dent in our massive, $1.5 trillion deficit,\u201d House Appropriations chair Rep. Hal Rogers (R-KY) stated. Ranking Appropriations panel member Rep. Norm Dicks (D-WA) said on the House floor that the cuts represented \u201ccommon ground spending reductions\u201d between Republicans and Democrats. The cuts trim the U.S. Geological Survey\u2019s climate effects network program by $10.5 million, the federal Environmental Protection Agency\u2019s greenhouse gas cap-and-trade fund by $5 million, and EPA climate change grants for local government by $10 million. * * * * * Bioenergy can help cut greenhouse gases and produce between 2,000 and 5,000 MW of power in California by 2020, according to a California Energy Commission report. To reach that potential, the state has to make several policy changes to support the technology. California currently has 1,527 MW of biomass power generating capacity, according to the document. The Energy Commission report--The 2011 Bioenergy Action Plan--calls for incentives for new biomass plants, reconsideration of legal restrictions on using urban waste to make power, and permit streamlining for biomass plants. Among other recommendations, it calls for increased use of feed-in tariffs for biomass plants and reconsideration of restrictive quality standards for biogas that feeds into natural gas pipelines. The Energy Commission is supposed to formally adopt the report at its March 23 meeting.