“A Collective Demand to Hold Our Breath”

The Christian Science Monitor has a balanced followup to the press conference by eight states attorneys general who apparently believe they deserve more power than Congress assembled.

After my publication (mildly crtitical of the attorneys general) “Now They Want to Be Caesar: Eight State Attorneys General Decide to End-Run Legislatures, Set National Global Warming Policies Themselves” was published Wednesday morning I received an e-mail from Scott Segal, who is director of the Electric Reliability Coordinating Council, containing their statement about the lawsuit. As it raises good points, I am reprinting it here:

Scott Segal, director of the Electric Reliability Coordinating Council (ERCC), made the following statement regarding tomorrow’s nuisance litigation announcement by a group of state attorneys general led by New York’s Eliot Spitzer. ERCC is a group of power-generating companies working on reasonable clean-air policy:

“It appears that New York Attorney General Spitzer and his followers intend to file a public nuisance lawsuit regarding carbon dioxide emissions.

This action brings new meaning to the term ‘nuisance lawsuit.’ Given that every human emits carbon dioxide every day, the next thing we anticipate from these attorney generals is a collective demand to hold our breath.

Simply put, a public nuisance lawsuit based upon carbon emission is frivolous. As attorney general Spitzer well knows, some of the key factual issues in this suit are already before the federal Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia in a case against the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. The nuisance case is just an exercise in election-year forum shopping.

Ironically, the attorneys general cite potential efficiency improvements at coal-fired power plants as approved methods to reduce carbon emissions. However, many of these same attorneys general have sought to delay clarification of new source review, a regulatory development critical to maintenance projects needed to improve efficiency. Once again, these attorneys general appear more concerned with regional economic competition than real environmental improvement.

The nuisance case is not a proper forum to address climate issues. The action attempts to transform a serious court into a debating society for political bluster. It is hard to believe that a court (a) would find this matter justiciable; (b) would grant the parties standing; or (c) would find that the petition actually states a claim upon which relief can be granted. In short, we do not believe the carbon nuisance case meets the minimum threshold for serious litigation.”

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