Will the Courts Set Economic Policy? AEP v. Connecticut Preview

The U.S. Supreme Court this morning hears oral arguments in American Electric Power v. Connecticut, an appeal from the Second Circuit ruling that held five utilities could be sued for creating a public nuisance under federal common law because they had emitted greenhouse gases that contribute to global warming. Boiled down, the issue is: Should the courts have the ability to raise your electric rates. (This paragraph updated at 1:50 p.m. to more accurately characterize Appellate Court’s ruling.)

From the Scotusblog, “Argument preview: The courts and global warming”:

The Supreme Court will hold eighty minutes of oral argument at 10 a.m. Tuesday on a major challenge to the use of the judiciary to impose controls on “greenhouse gas” emissions that may contribute to climate change, such as global warming.  In American Electric Power Co., et al., v. Connecticut, et al. (10-174), the argument for the electric utilities facing “public nuisance” lawsuits will be made by Peter D. Keisler of the Washington, D.C., office of Sidley Austin.  Arguing for the federal government in support of the utilities will be Acting U.S. Solicitor General Neal K. Katyal, and for a group of states will be New York’s state Solicitor General, Barbara D. Underwood.  The time for argument has been expanded from the usual 60 minutes to 80; the utilities and the government will have 20 minutes each, and the states 40.

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