States’ Attorneys General File Suit Against Utilities Over CO2 Emissions

In lieu of federal action to stave off global warming, attorneys general (AGs) from eight states as well as New York City have banded together in filing a “public nuisance” lawsuit calling on the nation’s largest utilities to curb carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions. So far, AGs from California, Connecticut, Iowa, New Jersey, New York, Rhode Island, Vermont and Wisconsin have linked up for the suit. They hope to convince colleagues in other states to join in as well.

The AGs are calling on five power producers—American Electric Power, Southern, Xcel, Cinergy and the Tennessee Valley Authority—to reduce CO2 emissions by three percent a year for 10 years.

“Some may say that the states have no role in this kind of fight, or that there’s no chance of success,” says Connecticut Attorney General Richard Blumenthal. “To them I would say, ‘Think tobacco.’ We’re here because the federal government has abdicated its responsibility as it also did with tobacco.”

The Bush administration has refused to take a stand against global warming, despite pleas to do so from leaders around the world. President Bush claims that regulating CO2 emissions would cripple the American economy, though critics point out that the global warming effects already underway will damage it more.

“This lawsuit opens a new legal frontier in the fight against global warming—a challenge that poses a serious threat to our environment, our natural resources, our public health and safety, and our economy,” says California Attorney General Bill Lockyer. “A head-in-the-sand response is not an option. For the sake of our people and their future, we must act now.”