AEP files motion to dismiss CO2 lawsuits

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COLUMBUS, Ohio, Sept. 30, 2004 - American Electric Power (NYSE: AEP) and four other electricity generators have filed motions to dismiss carbon dioxide lawsuits announced July 21 by a group of state attorneys general and others.

The motions were filed in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York. Besides AEP, motions were filed by Cinergy, Xcel, Southern Company and Tennessee Valley Authority.

"Filing lawsuits is not a constructive way to deal with the issue of climate change," said Michael G. Morris, AEP’s chairman, president and chief executive officer. "Climate change is a global issue that cannot effectively be addressed by any individual company, industry sector or country.

"Addressing climate change requires coordinated and meaningful international action that includes developing nations, not a lawsuit against five companies that generate electricity," Morris said.

The motions filed today cite a number of reasons for dismissal of the complaints, including:

  • Well-established separation-of-powers principles prevent the creation of federal common law to address climate change. States represented by the plaintiffs collectively constitute nearly a sixth of the Senate and nearly a third of the House. Congress and three separate administrations have repeatedly addressed global climate change, due to the breadth of its economic and energy impacts, and have chosen each time to collect data and analyze the problem, rather than authorize regulation. This means that any conceivable authority federal courts might have had to address climate change using federal common law has been displaced.

  • The plaintiffs lack standing to seek redress for global warming. The complaint alleges a litany of future harms, none of which is sufficiently imminent to create a "case or controversy" under Article III of the U.S. Constitution. Plaintiffs cannot allege that the five utilities singled out in the litigation are the cause of the alleged future harms or that limiting their emissions would be an effective remedy.

"Including AEP in this kind of action is counterproductive," said Morris. "AEP is an industry leader in taking action to address climate change. As the only U.S. utility among founding members of the Chicago Climate Exchange, we have committed to cap and reduce our CO2 emissions by a cumulative 10 percent by 2006. We are investing heavily in geologic and terrestrial carbon sequestration research and offset projects.

"We have already addressed the ´readily available solutions´ to climate change cited by the attorneys general when they announced the litigation," Morris said. "The efficiency of our coal-fired plants regularly ranks at or very near the top of industry rankings. AEP operates a diverse generation portfolio. We have a significant portfolio of natural gas facilities. We own nuclear plants. We are testing the use of biomass in our U.S. plants, and we are one of the largest generators of wind energy in the U.S."

Morris noted that AEP has also announced its intent to build the first base-load, commercial-scale Integrated Gasification Combined Cycle (IGCC) plant, a technology that converts coal into a synthetic gas to be used in the generation of electricity. IGCC and other clean-coal technologies significantly reduce emissions from electricity generation.

"We´re very proud of our efforts on climate change and believe the plaintiffs would be hard-pressed to find many companies in any industry sector who have been as progressive as AEP," Morris said. "The environment would be better served if the attorneys general worked with AEP and others seeking solutions to the climate change issue instead of wasting resources on litigation. We invite the attorneys general to join AEP in a meaningful dialogue to share our views and learn more about their concerns."

American Electric Power owns more than 36,000 megawatts of generating capacity in the United States and is the nation´s largest electricity generator. AEP is also one of the largest electric utilities in the United States, with more than 5 million customers linked to AEP’s 11-state electricity transmission and distribution grid. The company is based in Columbus, Ohio.
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Melissa McHenry
Manager, Corporate Media Relations