June 23, 2011
States can’t invoke federal law to force utilities to cut greenhouse-gas emissions, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled, shutting off one avenue for groups that advocate bolder steps against climate change.
The unanimous ruling is a victory for five companies — American Electric Power Co., Duke Energy Corp. (DUK), Xcel Energy Inc. (XEL), Southern Co. (SO) and the government-owned Tennessee Valley Authority — that had been sued by six U.S. states, including California, and the city of New York.
The states, which sought a cap on emissions, argued that carbon dioxide spewed by the utilities is a public nuisance because it causes climate change. The justices said the Environmental Protection Agency was better equipped than federal judges to assess the costs and benefits of reducing greenhouse gases.
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