Holy Alsup, Batman!

tempt Breaking news: hold the popcorn:
In these “global warming” actions asserting claims for public nuisance, defendants move to dismiss for failure to state a claim. For the following reasons, the motion is GRANTED.
Well, I'm shocked, shocked I tell you. Actually I am surprised: I thought Alsup would let this drag on a bit. But he's done the right thing. Fans of GW will appreciate "this order accepts the science behind global warming. So do both sides. The dangers raised in the complaints are very real". But others will be happy enough with "But those dangers are worldwide. Their causes are worldwide. The benefits of fossil fuels are worldwide. The problem deserves a solution on a more vast scale than can be supplied by a district judge or jury in a public nuisance case. While it remains true that our federal courts have authority to fashion common law remedies for claims based on global warming, courts must also respect and defer to the other co-equal branches of government when the problem at hand clearly deserves a solution best addressed by those branches. The Court will stay its hand in favor of solutions by the legislative and executive branches".

I'm pleased to see that hizzonner comes to exactly the same conclusion as I did:
This order fully accepts the vast scientific consensus that the combustion of fossil fuels has materially increased atmospheric carbon dioxide levels, which in turn has increased the median temperature of the planet and accelerated sea level rise. But questions of how to appropriately balance these worldwide negatives against the worldwide positives of the energy itself, and of how to allocate the pluses and minuses among the nations of the world, demand the expertise of our environmental agencies, our diplomats, our Executive, and at least the Senate. Nuisance suits in various United States judicial districts regarding conduct worldwide are far less likely to solve the problem and, indeed, could interfere with reaching a worldwide consensus.
This could be a good thing. If the Evil Oil Companies learn that admitting the science doesn't lead to instant disaster, perhaps they could give up opposing it. Which TBH they mostly have anyway.

Thinking about this: Alsup avoided ruling on the "responsibility" aspect: he didn't have to decide if the Evil Oil Customers, or their saintly customers, were the ones responsible for the CO2 emissions. Actually he does say largest cumulative producers of fossil fuels worldwide and are collectively responsible for over eleven percent of all carbon dioxide and methane pollution that has accumulated in the atmosphere since the Industrial Revolution but I suspect that of being a slip of the pen. There's a bit of the amended complaint, that certainly I and maybe no-one else noticed, about trying to avoid the displacement problem by suing for non-US emissions, which wouldn't be covered by the Clean Air Act; but that too failed.


* 2018-03-08: More climate suing stuff
* 2018-03-22: Alsup: today's news
* Google vs Oracle: it turns out that Alsup was the first judge on that, too.


Layzej said...

I've heard some libertarians argue that the courts are the one just way to redress the impacts of global warming. I imagine they will be dismayed that the courts favour a "big government" solution.

William M. Connolley said...

I can find you "some" people to argue almost anything; who are you thinking of? Relevant here is Taking Property Rights Seriously: The Case of Climate Change.

Layzej said...

Nutters I suppose.

David B. Benson said...

Eat your popcorn properly; with chopsticks.

Hank Roberts said...

Chuckle. Did you notice the lead industry's response to "public nuisance" findings?

Their plan was to cap liability and have the government pay for remediation.
But they withdrew that proposal at the last minute.


Three major paint companies financed the initiative after court rulings declared lead paint to be a public nuisance and required them to pay for cleanup. The ballot measure would have shifted the cost to clean up homes from the paint companies to California taxpayers.

I wonder if Alsup's decision gave them any confidence they won't be held responsible for the stupidity problem ?

Hank Roberts said...

Oh, here's the missing footnote:


Small loss of intelligence spread over a large population. What difference could that make?

William M. Connolley said...

> Their plan was

Something of an odd plan. I can see the appeal from their side, but it sin't clear why they thought the voters would vote for having the burden dumped on them.

crandles said...


"A federal judge in Texas has ruled that a case brought against Exxon for allegedly deceiving its employees about the risks of climate change will continue.

U.S. District Court Judge Ed Kinkeade on Tuesday denied the oil giant’s attempt to stop the suit, Ramirez v. Exxon, that was filed last year. He said the plaintiffs, led by the Pennsylvania Carpenters Pension Fund, had established sufficient claims of securities fraud against the company and several executives, including former chief executive Rex Tillerson.

Alleging the value of their retirement accounts has been endangered, employees filed the suit under the Employee Retirement Security Act (ERISA), alleging that the company has fraudulently inflated its stock and misrepresented what it knows about the risks of climate change."

Another here we go again case or is there some novel angle of possible merit in "established sufficient claims of securities fraud .... Alleging the value of their retirement accounts has been endangered" ?

William M. Connolley said...

Apologies to CR for late publication of comment; for some reason it got stuck in moderation.

As to the substance: in reality, I think there's nothing there. In legal terms, who knows?