States Sue Power Companies Over Carbon Dioxide Emissions

Eight states and New York City filed suit today against five of the largest power companies in the U.S., which they say are responsible for roughly 10 percent of the country’s carbon dioxide emissions. The suit is filed under a relatively obscure federal common law of public nuisance, which, according to the group’s press release, “provides a right of action to curb air and water pollution emanating from sources in other states.” The attorneys general are not seeking financial restitution but rather want to force the companies to substantially cut their CO2 emissions. The suit represents a direct attack by states on the Bush administration’s policy on climate change, which makes emission reductions largely voluntary. “We can’t afford to wait,” said Tom Dresslar, spokesguy for California Attorney General Bill Lockyer. The utilities responded with a flurry of PR, saying, hey, CO2 is not a pollutant, everybody breathes it, we’re just five little companies, this is election-year politics, and so on and so forth.