New York's global warming suit against oil companies tossed

23 Julio, 2018, 02:54 | Author: Enrique Watson
  • Another Climate Lawsuit Hits the Wall

The lawsuit filed in January sought to recoup billions of dollars from the oil companies that New York City alleged were spent helping contribute to climate change.

U.S. District Judge John Keenan dismissed the city's claims against ExxonMobil, Chevron, BP Plc, Royal Dutch Shell Plc and ConocoPhillips, ruling the federal Clean Air Act controls carbon dioxide emissions and blocks suits such as New York's, Bloomberg reported.

The decision follows a similar ruling from a judge in California, who in June threw out cases filed by San Francisco and Oakland on the grounds that it was unfair to place the blame for global warming harms exclusively on energy companies.

Both judges lamented the climate change crisis and acknowledged the science linking it to fossil fuel emissions. "But the serious problems caused thereby are not for the judiciary to ameliorate", he wrote. Keenan wrote that global warming is a problem best left to the other two branches of government.

National Association of Manufacturers President Jay Timmons noted that it was the third major climate change lawsuit filed on behalf of a United States city that has been dismissed.

The cases brought by New York, San Francisco, Oakland and other municipalities attempt to sue oil companies using state public nuisance law that allows courts to find defendants liable for interfering with the use of property, according to The New York Times.

A spokesman for New York Mayor Bill de Blasio told Courthouse News Service that the city intends to appeal.

Another Climate Lawsuit Hits the Wall
New York City lawsuit blaming oil companies for climate change tossed

The city tried to use state law to sue the companies to avoid running afoul of a 2011 ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court against a suit that used federal public nuisance law to target five big power companies.

Kimmell warned that "the climate threats facing New York City are overwhelming, and taxpayers are already paying to protect the city from future Sandy-scale damages". He said courts have previously determined that interstate emissions from burning fossil fuels is a "federal concern" that has been "delegated to the Executive Branch as they require a uniform, national solution".

"Judge Keenan made that clear in his decision today", said Mr. Timmons in a statement.

Keenan says the lawsuit implicates countless foreign governments and their laws and policies.

The U.S. Supreme Court has expressly held, in 2011's American Electric Power Company v. CT (131 S.CT. 2527), the Clean Air Act displaces federal common law claims based on fossil fuel emissions. The Supreme Court has acknowledged that private plaintiffs can bring federal tort claims, both Keenan and Alsup wrote, but its most recent decisions have urged federal courts to be extremely leery of overextending the reach of USA laws and intruding in matters that implicate foreign policy concerns.

Chevron attorney Theodore J. Boutrous of the law firm Gibson Dunn said that Judge Keenan "got it exactly right".

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