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GenOn Power Midwest v. Bell

In this case, residents of Pennsylvania who live near a coal-fired power plant brought a state-law nuisance, negligence, and trespass case against the operator of the plant, GenOn Power Midwest, based on the plant’s emission of chemicals, odors, and particulates on to the plaintiffs’ property. GenOn moved to dismiss, arguing that the plaintiffs’ claims are preempted by the Clean Air Act (CAA). The district court dismissed the case, but the Third Circuit reversed, explaining that the CAA does not preempt state common-law actions based on the law of the source state. GenOn sought review by the Supreme Court, where Public Citizen served as co-counsel for the plaintiffs in opposing the petition. Our opposition explained that it is hornbook law that the CAA preserves injured parties’ rights to resort to state common law to redress injuries suffered from air pollution, that there is no circuit split on whether the CAA preempts source-state common-law claims, and that the decision below specifically tracked established Supreme Court precedent. On June 2, 2014, the Supreme Court denied GenOn’s petition.