Greenhouse gasses: Political question or public nuisance?

Following closely on the heels of two high-profile reversals from the 2nd and 5th Circuits finding subject matter jurisdiction over public nuisance actions for damage allegedly caused by greenhouse gas emissions, U.S. District Judge Saundra Armstrong did what the district courts in those two prior actions did by dismissing the Village of Kivalina’s federal common law claim for nuisance, holding that her court lacked jurisdiction on the basis of political question and lack of standing.  In doing so, Judge Armstrong set the case up for a 9th Circuit appeal and further percolation among the circuits as to the question of whether climate change caused by greenhouse gasses is a justiciable public nuisance, or a non-justiciable political question.  The 2nd and 5th Circuits have now found justiciable public nuisances.

Proponents of GHG litigation argue that a similar outcome at the 9th Circuit would accelerate adoption of GHG-reducing technologies in electricity generation and transmission.

Here’s the current round up:

Second Circuit:    Connecticut v. American Electric Power Co.View the Complaint, the S.D.N.Y. Order granting defendants’ motion to dismiss, and the 2nd Circuit’s Sept. 21, 2009 opinion reversing the district court.

Fifth Circuit:   Comer v. Murphy Oil USA, Inc. –  View the Third Amended Class Action Complaint filed in the Southern District of Mississipi, the district court’s order granting defendants’ motion to dismiss, and the 5th Circuit’s Oct. 16, 2009 opinion reversing the district court.

Ninth Circuit:  Village of Kivalina v. ExxonMobil — View the Complaint and Judge Armstrong’s Order dismissing the action.

Ninth Circuit:  California v. General Motors — View the Complaint and Judge Martin Jenkins’ Order granting defendants’ motion to dismiss.  The case was originally appealed to the 9th Circuit but the appeal was withdrawn .

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One Response to “Greenhouse gasses: Political question or public nuisance?”

  1. Strategic use of solar patents maturing — slowly but surely « Cleantech Litigation Report Says:

    [...] Armstrong, who wrote the Kivalina Order on greenhouse gas public nuisance suits that I recently posted about.  (I also recently appeared before Judge Armstrong in a contracts case that included [...]

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