In the fall of 2009, the Second
Circuit issued its long-awaited decision in Connecticut
v. American Electric Power Company, a case alleging a federal common law nuisance
claim based on the effects of
greenhouse gases. The Second
Circuit Court of Appeals reversed a lower court dismissal of the case.
In a lengthy opinion, the Second
Circuit held that plaintiffs-eight states, the City of New York, and
entities-had standing to seek an injunction against six electrical
companies to restrict their greenhouse gas emissions based on a public
claim. The Court also held that
the claims were not barred by the political question doctrine, which
courts from deciding questions that have been committed for decision to
executive and legislative branches.
Finally, the Court held that plaintiffs had stated a viable federal
common law nuisance claim, which had not been displaced by congressional