Blawgletter's firm represents Kivalina, Alaska.
Blawgletter can make a fair guess why Connecticut v. Am. Elec. Power Co., Inc., No. 05-5104-cv (2d Cir. Sept. 21, 2009), came out after Associate Justice Sonia Sotomayor cleared the Senate last month. Had it preceded the event — and had Her Honor joined with her colleagues in the opinion — it would have made a loud buzzing sound in the Senate chamber. And the buzz would have come from the cutting of a wide swath for global warming cases through the U.S. judiciary primeval.
New York City, several states, and three land trusts sued six power companies for burning fossil fuels and thus flinging carbon dioxide in big amounts into the air. They alleged that the extra CO2 warmed the globe, setting in train climate change like you've never seen — smaller snowpacks in the Sierra Nevadas plus all this:
[I]ncreased illnesses and deaths caused by intensified and prolonged heat waves; increased smog, with a concomitant increase in residents’ respiratory problems; significant beach erosion; accelerated sea level rise and the subsequent inundation of coastal land and damage to coastal infrastructure; salinization of marshes and water supplies; lowered Great Lakes water levels, and impaired shipping, recreational use, and hydropower generation; more droughts and floods, resulting in property damage; increased wildfires, particularly in California; and the widespread disruption of ecosystems, which would seriously harm hardwood forests and reduce biodiversity.
Am. Elec. Power, slip op. at 9.
The two-judge panel rebuffed every thunderbolt the power titans hurled at the complaint — non-justiciable political question, standing, failure to state a claim for federal common law nuisance, and displacement of the claim by other federal law.
We can only guess why the opinion took over three years after oral argument (on June 7, 2006) to emerge. Better late than never.