Georgia Department of Law, from the office of Samuel S. Olens, Attorney General


U.S. Supreme Court Rules Against Judicial Policymaking on Climate Change

June 20, 2011

Attorney General Sam Olens released the following statement applauding the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling in American Electric Power Co. v. Connecticut striking down the plaintiffs’ attempt to advance their climate change agenda through the judicial process:

“I am pleased that the U.S. Supreme Court agreed with the arguments in our Amicus Brief, which Georgia filed with 22 other states[1], that carbon dioxide cannot be regulated through litigation. By ruling against the plaintiffs in American Electric Power Co. v. Connecticut, the Court affirmed that policy should not be decided by the courts, especially in a highly charged political debate like climate change. Instead, the policy making process will be left to our elected officials, who are held accountable by the voters.”

In its opinion, the Court ruled that the Clean Air Act and Environmental Protection Agency action authorized by the Act displace any federal common-law right to seek abatement of carbon dioxide emissions from power plants.  The Court, therefore, held that a federal common-law action brought by states and private plaintiffs alleging that five electric utilities have created a “public nuisance” by contributing to global warming cannot proceed. The opinion can be found at the following link:

[1]Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Florida, Idaho, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, South Dakota, Utah, West Virginia, and Wyoming joined Georgia in filing the Amicus Brief.