The New Climate Litigation

moneyHow about if we sue you for breathing?

Wall Street Journal Editorial

Fresh from the fiasco in Copenhagen and with a failure in the U.S. Senate looming this coming year, the climate-change lobby is already shifting to Plan B, or is it already Plan D? Meet the carbon tort.

Across the country, trial lawyers and green pressure groups – if that’s not redundant – are teaming up to sue electric utilities for carbon emissions under “nuisance” laws.

A group of 12 Gulf Coast residents whose homes were damaged by Katrina are suing 33 energy companies for greenhouse gas emissions that allegedly contributed to the global warming that allegedly made the hurricane worse. Connecticut Attorney General Richard Blumenthal and seven state AG allies plus New York City are suing American Electric Power and other utilities for a host of supposed eco-maladies. A native village in Alaska is suing Exxon and 23 oil and energy companies for coastal erosion.

What unites these cases is the creativity of their legal chain of causation and their naked attempts at political intimidation. “My hope is that the court case will provide a powerful incentive for polluters to be reasonable and come to the table and seek affordable and reasonable reductions,” Mr. Blumenthal told the trade publication Carbon Control News. “We’re trying to compel measures that will stem global warming regardless of what happens in the legislature.”

Mull over that one for a moment. Mr. Blumenthal isn’t suing to right a wrong. He admits that he’s suing to coerce a change in policy no matter what the public’s elected representatives choose.

Cap and trade or a global treaty like the one that collapsed in Copenhagen would be destructive – but at least either would need the assent of a politically accountable Congress. The Obama Administration’s antidemocratic decision to impose carbon regulation via the Environmental Protection Agency would be even more destructive – but at least it would be grounded in an existing law, the 1977 Clean Air Act, however misinterpreted. The nuisance suits ask the courts to make such fundamentally political decisions themselves, with judges substituting their views for those of the elected branches.

Read the rest of this piece at Wall Street Journal.

10 Responses to The New Climate Litigation

  1. Rob N. Hood December 30, 2009 at 4:41 pm #

    This doesn’t seem that different from the right-wingers who sue the government to be able to use public land for their purposes, or when the government restricts something that they’ve been doing for years and get crazy angry about it and sue. I don’t believe many if any of these lawsuits will actually win. Contrary to popular gossip, not many “frivolous” lawsuits prevail. If there really is a legitimate greivance, and a judge/jury awards damages, well that is the American way, is it not? That is called Justice. Now you may not agree with a certain outcome but my friends (and enemies) that is JUSTICE as currently practiced in this country. It is not a bad method actually and historically has been copied by many around the world. The only real problem with it is the one with the most money in the first place usually wins. Money sometimes does “buy” justice, either through out-right bribery, or other methods like how OJ was able to purchase the best defense money could buy, and it worked for him, at least the first time… But that is perhaps a bad example, because large corporations employ and retain MANY very expensive attorneys to work the system for them on a constant basis. But that is getting back to the main problem with this country…

  2. Paul Wenum December 30, 2009 at 10:07 pm #

    The bottom line is “if you eat too many beans and fart you can be sued.” Intimadation it is and always will be from the very “far left.” I always wondered if someone expelled “natural gas” that they would be sued. My theory has now been proven correct. What is this world coming to? You tell me.

  3. Hal Groar December 31, 2009 at 1:51 pm #

    Rob, I guess if you work hard and earn a good living your entitled to a sharp lawyer. Granted you pay for it, but you EARNED it. That is the American way and I am proud of it. My children aspire to be rich some day, do they need to be reprogrammed to accept squalor? They certainly won’t inherit millions, so they will need to earn it. Will they be bad people if they earn it themselves? How much money does one person need in your world? Is over $25,000 a year taking too much money out of the treasury pie? Class envy is ugly. Easy to spot though.

    • Rob N. Hood January 1, 2010 at 9:48 pm #

      AllI was doing was pointing out the hypocrisy of the Right being ok with certain kinds of lawsuits but not another kind. That’s all. Plus, I was simply making a statement about our justice system. I was not defending it or praising it. Brush up on your reading skills. And Paul, as usual you resort to hyperbole and nonsense.

  4. Hal Groar December 31, 2009 at 2:18 pm #

    Here is something interesting…

    This throws a wrench into the EPA regulations. Tough to regulate CO2 when it hasn’t risen in the last 160 years. Hmmm….

    • Balgorg December 31, 2009 at 5:47 pm #

      Interesting artical you cite, anyone here a member of the AGU ? because thats where the actual figures have been published.

  5. Neil F. AGWD/BSD January 1, 2010 at 8:17 pm #

    (This is from previous post but I think it bares repeating)
    CO2 is 0.038% of Earth’s atmosphere. For those of you who don’t understand how small a number that is, you would have to multiply that by roughly 26.315 times to get to 1% of the Earth’s atmospheric composition.
    “Carbon dioxide absorbs infrared radiation (IR) in three narrow bands of wavelengths, which are 2.7, 4.3 and 15 micrometers (µM). This means that most of the heat producing radiation escapes it. About 8% of the available black body radiation is picked up by these “fingerprint” frequencies of CO2.”

    What that means is even if you were to double, tripple, or qaudruple the amount of CO2 in the Earth’s atmosphere, it will still only pick up, or absorb, 8% of the infra-red radiation coming from the Earth’s surface.
    So please stop accepting this premise that CO2 is a pollutant, or “powerfull” greenhouse gas. It is a lie.

  6. ade January 5, 2010 at 1:32 am #

    The Greenpeas should be praising the utility companies
    If it were not for their CO2 production ,people would be freezing and dying
    due to the cold weather. They cannot have it both ways.
    CO2 is good for America,especially now. BRR

  7. Rob N. Hood January 5, 2010 at 4:50 pm #

    Like the golden calf, eh? That is very sublime… subconscious even. Good post… especially for other like-minded barbarians.

  8. TESOL Certification December 25, 2011 at 2:55 pm #

    I am waiting for some scientific explanation as to how an increase from 250 ppm CO2 to 400 ppm CO2 in our atmosphere can affect our climate. Is it possible that the temperature increases first releasing CO2 from the ocean?

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