The Republic: NJ withdraws from lawsuit seeking judicial oversight over pollution issues

March 12, 2011- New Jersey has withdrawn from a lawsuit brought by several states that sought to have five electric utilities cut the greenhouse gases emitted by their power plants in 20 states.

State Attorney General Paula Dow notified the U.S. Supreme Court on Friday that New Jersey "will no longer be a party" to the case, though the decision was not publicly disclosed. The Associated Press obtained a copy of Dow's March 11 letter to William K. Suter, clerk of the Supreme Court, which was signed by Deputy Attorney General Lisa J. Morelli.

Paul Loriquet, a spokesman for Dow, told the AP on Saturday that the "lawsuit that was originally filed in 2004 has been effectively mooted by the 2007 Supreme Court decision declaring that the regulation of greenhouse emissions is a federal issue."

In an e-mail, he added that, "Considering the Supreme Court's ruling and the Obama Administration's subsequent position that the EPA must determine an appropriate plan of action, it does not make sense to incur further taxpayer expense on an unnecessary lawsuit."

New Jersey's decision to withdraw was sharply criticized by U.S. Sen. Frank Lautenberg, who has been involved in global warming issues.

"Why should New Jersey be less concerned about the health and well-being of its families than Connecticut, New York, Rhode Island, Vermont, California and Iowa?" he asked in a statement issued Saturday. "The choice here was between the health of New Jersey families and profits for out-of-state polluters. When companies in other states are dumping pollution into the air that affects our families, New Jersey must stand up and fight — not back down."

Eight states had initially brought the suit, along with New York City and three nonprofit land trusts seeking to combat global warming. But that number shrunk to seven in February, when Wisconsin dropped out of the suit.


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