For immediate release - Wednesday,
July 21, 2004.
Contact Bob Brammer - 515-281-6699.
Sue Top Five U.S. Global-Warming Polluters
and seven other states and New York City file lawsuit seeking
dramatic reductions in carbon dioxide emissions from power plants.
Connecticut, New Jersey, New York, Rhode Island, Vermont and Wisconsin,
and the City of New York filed suit today against the five largest global
warming polluters in the United States, power companies that own or operate
more than 170 fossil fuel-burning power plants and emit about 10 per cent
of the nation's carbon dioxide pollution. (Click
here for a copy of the States' Complaint.)
threatens Iowa as we know it today," said
Iowa Attorney General Tom Miller. "The Earth is heating faster than
at any time in history, and that poses enormous long-term risk to Iowa
agriculture and Iowans' health," he said.
"The risks are
especially great for Iowa agriculture," Miller
said. "Most scientists believe global warming is likely to cause
more extreme weather conditions of various kinds in North America, with
hotter heat waves, longer and more frequent drought, and more severe
just be rolling the dice and hoping for the best," Miller
said. "We need to act to protect Iowa," he said.
is pollution, and the top source of pollution is carbon dioxide emissions
from power plants," Miller said. "Our suit names the five
U.S. power companies with the most carbon dioxide pollution, totaling
hundreds of millions of tons per year. The suit demands that they make
pollution reductions that are substantial and achievable. My goal is
the bountiful Iowa we know today, and preserve it for generations to
ISU Extension Climatologist
and Professor of Agricultural Meteorology Elwynn Taylor joined Miller
at a news conference announcing the suit Wednesday in Des
Taylor said: "The
first sector to take a hit from global warming is agriculture. Iowa
and Kansas could feel it hardest because of our dependence on agriculture.
Erratic, sharp weather fluctuations - a likely consequence of global
warming - leads to wide extremes in crop yield. I've estimated that
global warming already consistently is costing about half
a billion dollars a year in reduced corn yield to Iowa alone. And the
effect on beans is likely similar."
Companies named as
defendants in the States' and NYC action are American Electric Power
Company; the Southern Company; Tennessee Valley Authority; Xcel Energy
Inc.; and Cinergy Corporation. (See below for company details.) Together,
own or operate 174 fossil fuel burning power plants in 20 states that
emit some 650 million tons of carbon dioxide each year, according to
the suit - almost a quarter of the U.S. utility industry's annual carbon
dioxide emissions and about 10 percent of the nation's total. The action
calls on the companies to reduce their pollution; it does not seek monetary
The case was filed
today in federal district court in New York under the federal common
law of public nuisance, which provides a right of action to curb air
water pollution emanating from sources in other states. Public nuisance
is a well-established legal doctrine that is commonly invoked in environmental
cases and forms the basis for much of today's modern environmental
Scientists say the
Earth is warming faster today than at any time in human history, and
more rapidly than any natural factors can explain, the States noted.
recent data from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
show that 2003 tied 2002 as the second hottest year on record, following
1998. The five hottest years all have occurred since
1997 and the 10 hottest since 1990.
The lawsuit marks
the first time state and local governments have sued private companies
to require reductions in the heat-trapping carbon dioxide emissions
scientists say pose serious threats to public health, the economy, and
The suit alleges
the defendant companies' emissions contribute to a harm borne by all members
of the public. The states as sovereign governments and the City
of New York have the right to protect their residents and properties
from such widespread harm.
Miller said he doesn't expect significant litigation costs for Iowa
to participate in the lawsuit.
The States and NYC
say they are bringing suit because global warming is a serious threat
to communities and the environment in the states, and that the effects
global warming will become increasingly severe if emissions are not reduced.
Damages from global warming include public health consequences such
as more asthma and other respiratory disease, increased heatstroke
and heat-related mortality. "Iowa's high percentage
of older persons could be especially vulnerable to adverse health consequences
made worse by global warming," Miller
A report prepared
by the National Academy of Sciences at the request of President Bush
in 2001 reaffirmed widespread consensus that carbon dioxide and other
emissions are responsible for global warming. Experts say that if nothing
is done to cut emissions, average global temperatures will rise between
3 and 10 degrees Fahrenheit by the end of the century, (conceivably
half again the temperature change between the last glacial epoch and
the present, according to Dr. Taylor.) By comparison, the difference in
global average temperature between now and the last ice
age was only 7-11 degrees Fahrenheit.
The States argue
that readily-available solutions to reduce carbon dioxide pollution
include increased efficiency of coal-burning plants, switching from
coal to cleaner-burning
fuels, greater use of biomass energy derived from plants, investment
in energy conservation, and use of clean energy sources like wind and
solar power. Clean coal technologies also are emerging that allow carbon
dioxide to be removed from coal-fired power plant smokestacks.
Federal studies indicate
that electric power producers, the largest global warming polluters, present
the best opportunity for significant and cost-effective reductions
of carbon dioxide pollution.
Scientists say that since carbon dioxide accumulates in the atmosphere,
the longer the delay before significant cuts are made, the sharper and
deeper the cuts will need to be.
The Defendants: America's Top Five Global Warming Polluters
(By Carbon Dioxide Emissions from Company-Owned or Operated Power Plants)
American Electric Power Company, Inc. (AEP) / American Electric
Estimated annual CO2 Emissions: 226 million tons.
2003 Reported Revenue: $15.6 billion.
AEP controls 12 utility
companies including Appalachian Power, Columbus Southern Power, Indiana,
Michigan Power, Kentucky Power, Kingsport Power, Ohio Power, Public
Company of Oklahoma, Southwestern Electric Power, AEP Texas Central,
AEP Texas North, Wheeling Power and AEP Generating. AEP owns or operates
fossil fuel-fired power plants
in 11 states including Arkansas, Indiana, Kentucky, Louisiana, Michigan,
Ohio, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia and West Virginia.
The Southern Company (SO)
Estimated annual CO2 Emissions: 171 million tons.
2003 Reported Revenue: $11.28 billion.
The Southern Company
controls five utility companies, including Alabama Power, Georgia Power,
Gulf Power, Mississippi Power and Savannah Electric and Power. Southern
owns or operates fossil fuel-fired power plants in Alabama, Florida, Mississippi
Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA)
Estimated annual CO2 Emissions: 110 million tons.
2003 Reported Revenue: $6.95 billion.
TVA is a federal
corporation that owns and operates fossil fuel-fired power plants in
Tennessee, Kentucky, Alabama, and Mississippi.
#4: Xcel Energy Inc. (XEL)
Estimated annual CO2 Emissions: 75 million tons.
2003 Reported Revenue: $7.9 billion.
Xcel controls five
utility companies, including Northern States Power of Minnesota; Northern
States Power of Wisconsin; Public Service Company of Colorado; and
Southwestern Public Service. Xcel owns or operates fossil fuel-fired
power plants in Colorado, Minnesota,
New Mexico, South Dakota, Texas, and Wisconsin.
#5: Cinergy Corp. (CIN)
Estimated annual CO2 Emissions: 70 million tons.
2003 Reported Revenue: $4.4 billion.
the Cincinnati Gas & Electric
and PSI Energy, Inc. Cinergy owns or operates fossil fuel-fired power
plants in Ohio, Kentucky and Indiana.
EMISSIONS DATA SOURCE: U.S. Environmental Protection Agency eGrid database
for year 2000 emissions.
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