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Friday, August 20, 2010

The limits of public nuisance: North Carolina v. TVA

by Kirsten E. Small

About a month ago, the Fourth Circuit vacated an injunction that required the Tennessee Valley Authority to immediately install emissions controls at four of its plants. The Court determined that the "defined standards of the Clean Air Act" preempted a common law public nuisance claim--"an ill-defined tort of last resort." (Judge Wilkinson is a poet, and he didn't even know it.) The Court also concluded that the district court had erred in applying North Carolina law extraterritorially.

I know next to nothing about environmental law, but evidently this decision is kind of a big deal. Law360 yesterday published an article explaining that the decision is significant because of how thoroughly it responds to the arguments in support of the tort of public nuisance for environmental claims.

Happy weekend, everyone!

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