Media Advisory: Heartland Institute Legal Expert Reacts to Supreme Court Global Warming Case

Published April 19, 2011

The U.S. Supreme Court heard oral argument this morning in a “public nuisance” lawsuit that could ultimately result in a court order requiring five electrical generating companies to limit their emissions of greenhouse gases.

The following statement by attorney Maureen Martin, Heartland’s senior fellow for legal affairs, may be used for attribution.

“The federal appellate court below called this case ‘an ordinary tort suit’ and ruled it could go forward. In fact, the case is unprecedented. The legal issues before the Supreme Court today are technical ones at this stage of the case. But if the appellate court decision is affirmed, it would eventually mean anyone could sue any entity – including individual humans – who emits carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases.

“That’s because sources ranging from large power plants down to backyard weed whackers emit greenhouse gases, as do humans when they exhale carbon dioxide and pass (methane) gas. And livestock producers could be sued for maintaining herds of cows, which pass methane gas as well.
“This is a case being closely watched by business and industry as it has both economic and technical issues of importance to this country’s financial well-being.”

Maureen Martin, J.D.
Senior Fellow for Legal Affairs
The Heartland Institute
[email protected]

The Heartland Institute is a 27-year-old national nonprofit organization with offices in Chicago and Washington, DC. Its mission is to discover, develop, and promote free-market solutions to social and economic problems. For more information, visit our Web site at or call 312/377-4000.