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Genon Mid-Atlantic, LLC v. Montgomery County, Maryland

ELR Citation: 41 ELR 20211
Nos. No. 10-1882, (4th Cir., 06/20/2011)

The Fourth Circuit held that the Tax Injunction Act does not bar the owner of a power plant from challenging an excise tax on carbon dioxide emissions. A lower court ruled that it lacked jurisdiction under the Tax Injunction Act because the carbon charge was a tax. But of all the carbon dioxide emitters in the county, only the power plant is expected to be subject to the levy. This is compelling evidence that it is a punitive fee rather than a tax. Moreover, the charge is located squarely within the county's own programmatic efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Accordingly, the carbon charge, which targets a single emitter and is part of a wide-ranging regulatory program, is a punitive and regulatory fee over which the federal courts retain jurisdiction.