Environmental and pollution

As Exxon and BP have discovered, a company may be held liable for endangering or polluting the environment. Recently, several attorney generals have commences a law suit against the nation’s five largest emitters of carbon dioxide (CO2) pollution to force reductions in their emissions of the heat-trapping gas. The U.S. Supreme Court has granted certiorari indicating that it would hear American Electric Power v. Connecticut, an appeal of the U.S. Second Circuit Court of Appeal’s ruling that states and environmental groups could sue under federal public nuisance law to force electric utilities to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. . This is the summarized court’s ruling.

Similar environmental cases have been presented to the court.

After you read the articles , think about if you agree or disagree with the decision of the court of the holding and why. Do you think companies should be held liable? Why or why not?

  • Is pollution or environmental change something that can be effectively regulated by each state?
  • What standard would develop for when the federal government should step in to regulate indirect pollution by a company such as described in the American Electric Power case above?
  • In Germany, manufactures must take back packing materials for their products such as crated, drums, boxes and shrink wrap. They may not dispose of these items in the public waste disposal system. What would you think if legislators required American retailors to take back packaging materials such as cartons and antitheft devices on CDs?
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