TVA facing lawsuit that seeks to enforce emission reduction

The hits just keep on coming for the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA). First, a massive spill from its east Tennessee coal-burning site results in a near-$1 billion cleanup, millions in payouts to the county it nearly destroyed, and mounting lawsuits from parties injured by the spill. Now, a Second Circuit Court of Appeals has reinstated global warming lawsuits brought by eight states, New York City, and three land trusts against the TVA and other large utility companies, which seek to limit their carbon dioxide emissions, according to The Australian Business.

The order overrides a district judge’s 2005 ruling, which dismissed the cases, saying the lower court was wrong to throw out the complaints against the utilities. The utilities had claimed that if the court ordered a reduction in emissions, the move would interfere with the President’s efforts to persuade other nations to reduce their emissions. U.S. District Judge Loretta Preska dismissed the cases on the grounds that reducing carbon dioxide emissions was a matter to be dealt with by Congress, not the court system.

The utilities involved include the TVA, American Electric Power, Southern Co., Xcel Energy and Cinergy, now owned by Duke Energy. Plaintiffs in the lawsuits include New York, Connecticut, California, Iowa, New Jersey, Rhode Island, Vermont, Wisconsin, New York City and land trusts Open Space Institute, Open Space Conservancy and the Audubon Society of New Hampshire.

“This is a game-changing decision for New York and other states, reaffirming our right to take direct action against global warming pollution from power plants,” said New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo. “Today’s decision allows us to press this crucial case forward and address the dangers posed by these coal-burning power plants. My office will continue to be a leader in the fight to tackle the risks global warming poses to our environment, public health and economy.”