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Articles by Hannah McCrea

Hannah McCrea is online communications director at the Constitutional Accountability Center (CAC). She writes at the blog Warming Law.

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If Congress and the president fail to tackle global warming, can courts step in? Can federal judges allow people struggling with the losses of global warming to sue polluters directly?

The idea may at first seem crazy. In a legal world obsessed with claims of judicial activism, the image of a judge taking on a global problem like climate change seems like the punch line to a bad joke at an Exxon board meeting. But it turns out there is a long and proud history of judges addressing pollution in the absence of environmental regulation. For much of the last century — long before Congress acted — federal courts allowed plaintiffs to seek injunctions to stop all kinds of pollution. Successful suits prevented an ore smelter from releasing deadly atmospheric arsenic over the homes and families of Utah, the City of Chicago from draining its sewage into St. Louis’ drinking supply, and New York City from dumping its garbage into the Atlantic, where it washed up on the beaches of the New Jersey Shore. Today, states and environmentalists are turning to these and other historic precedents to make the case that climate change, too, belongs in the courts — w... Read more

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  • Climate success in 2009 should inspire the new year

    Co-written by Doug Kendall, founder and president of the Constitutional Accountability Center. For good reason, many climate activists view 2009 as a disappointing year, filled with bad news coverage and missed opportunities. The Senate seems a long way from passing a clean energy jobs bill, and the long-anticipated U.N. summit in Copenhagen has come and […]

  • A victory for Katrina victims; a defeat for Alaskan villagers

    Cross-posted from Warming Law. A federal appeals court has reversed the dismissal of a lawsuit brought by victims of Hurricane Katrina seeking damages related to global warming, while a federal district court in California has dismissed a similar lawsuit brought by an Alaskan village allegedly disappearing beneath rising sea levels. These rulings come weeks after […]

  • Why the Second Circuit ‘nuisance’ case brings good news, and bad (part II)

    Cross-posted from Warming Law. In an earlier post, we explored the background, context, and historical significance of the Second Circuit decision handed down late Monday in Connecticut v. AEP, in which the court ruled that a group of states and environmental groups could sue several major electric utilities for contributing to a “public nuisance” in […]

  • Why the Second Circuit “nuisance” case brings good news, and bad (part 1)

    Cross-posted from Warming Law. Coverage and analysis is slowly trickling in of the landmark ruling [pdf] handed down by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit late yesterday, in which a 2-judge panel held that a group of states and environmental groups could sue several electric utility companies for creating a “public nuisance” […]