Description: Challenge to Delaware amendment of Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative regulations that lowered carbon dioxide emissions cap.
Stevenson v. Delaware Department of Natural Resources & Environmental Control
Filing Date Type File Action Taken Summary 06/26/2018 Decision Download Action dismissed with prejudice. Delaware Court Dismissed Challenge to RGGI Regulations. A Delaware trial court dismissed an action challenging Delaware regulations implementing the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative and its carbon dioxide emissions trading program. The court ruled that the plaintiffs—individuals who alleged that the increased costs of carbon dioxide allowances would be reflected in their electricity bills—did not have standing because they had failed to establish any financial harm or that success in the lawsuit would result in lowering their electricity prices. The court stated: “Instead of seeking to correct an actual harm, plaintiffs are officiously meddling with Delaware’s RGGI Act.” 11/07/2016 Decision Download Decision issued. Delaware Court Said It Could Not Yet Resolve Question of Electric Consumers’ Standing to Challenge RGGI Regulations. The Delaware Superior Court vacated its denial of a motion to amend a complaint challenging Delaware’s regulations implementing the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative to correct the middle initial of a plaintiff. The court reversed its conclusion that amendment would be futile after the plaintiff (with the corrected initial) along with another plaintiff submitted affidavits indicating that they were personally responsible for payment of electric bills. (The court had previously ruled that the plaintiff would not have had standing as a stakeholder in a company that was a commercial purchaser of electricity.) Although the court allowed submission of the affidavits and amendment of the complaint, it said that the plaintiffs had not established standing and that discovery might show they had not paid electric bills during pertinent times or had not incurred increased costs. The court also denied the defendants’ motion for summary judgment as to all the plaintiffs, indicating that it needed to hear the defendants’ expert’s testimony and cross-examination as to financial benefits received by electric consumers. 08/19/2016 Order Download Order issued on plaintiffs' motion to amend complaint. Court Said a Plaintiff in Challenge to Delaware RGGI Program Lacked Standing. The Delaware Superior Court denied as futile a motion to amend a complaint challenging Delaware’s regulations implementing the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative. The plaintiffs sought to correct the middle initial of a plaintiff. They argued that the defendants were aware of the actual identity of the plaintiff and knew that he—not his deceased father, with whom the actual plaintiff shared a first and last name but not a middle initial—was the intended plaintiff. The court said that amendment would be futile because the plaintiff would not have had standing based on his stake in a company that was a commercial purchaser of electricity. 04/05/2016 Memorandum Opinion Download Opinion issued on plaintiffs' motions for summary judgment and a stay. Delaware Court Said Electricity Customers Who Challenged RGGI Regulations Had Not Established Standing. The Delaware Superior Court denied summary judgment to individual electricity customers who challenged amendments to Delaware’s Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI) regulations that would have the effect of increasing the cost of carbon dioxide allowances. The court said that the individuals had not established that they had standing, finding that the defendants had introduced evidence that called into question whether the plaintiffs would be financially harmed and that the plaintiffs had not produced solid evidence that their electricity prices would increase. The court also denied the plaintiffs’ motion for a stay. 09/22/2014 Order Download Order issued denying motion to dismiss. The Delaware Superior Court denied a motion by the Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control (DNREC) to dismiss the action. The court ruled that plaintiffs—Delaware residents and customers of Delaware utilities—had standing and rejected the contention that the challenge should have been made before the Public Service Commission. The court also found that plaintiffs’ allegations were sufficient for their claims to survive a motion to dismiss. 12/30/2013 Complaint Download Complaint filed. Individuals commenced a challenge in Delaware Superior Court to regulations published in December 2013 implementing changes to the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI), including a reduction in the carbon dioxide emissions cap. Plaintiffs allege that the December 2013 regulations illegally decrease the cap below the level provided for in the original RGGI memorandum of understanding (MOU) that Delaware’s governor signed in 2005. They contended that Delaware statutory law expressly constrained the Secretary of the Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control to regulate within the parameters of the 2005 MOU. Plaintiffs also contended that the regulations increased RGGI program fees in contravention of the Delaware constitution, which would require fee increases to be approved by a three-fifths majority of the Delaware General Assembly.