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Document Type

Symposium Article

Abstract

In July 2004, eight States, the City of New York and three land trusts filed suit against five electric power corporations for contributing to global warming. The complaints allege that the defendants are the largest global warming polluters in the United States. The plaintiffs seek an injunction under the federal common law of public nuisance, or in the alternative, under state nuisance law, to require the power companies to reduce their emissions of carbon dioxide. Press coverage of the plaintiffs’ global warming case so far has been mixed. The press has generally failed to understand several of the important legal principles involved, including the legal doctrine of public nuisance. The legal case takes place against a backdrop of a long campaign of distortion by industry relating to the science of global warming that has affected the reporting on global warming generally. Historically, the press has unwittingly distorted coverage of global warming science by uncritically accepting the industry view that the science is in dispute.

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