City of New York v Chevron Corp, again

tempt Big win for common sense: New York City Loses Appeal Seeking to Hold Oil Firms Liable “Global Warming” say the Watties (but don't worry, that's a safe archive.is link) and despite the poisson-d'Avril date, it appears to be true: Reuters have the same, or you can just read the judgement: 
The City of New York has sued five multinational oil companies under New York tort law seeking to recover damages for the harms caused by global warming. The district court (Keenan, J.) dismissed the complaint. We affirm for substantially the same reasons as those articulated in the district court’s opinion. First, global warming is a uniquely international concern that touches upon issues of federalism and foreign policy. As a result, it calls for the application of federal common law, not state law. Second, the Clean Air Act grants the Environmental Protection Agency – not federal courts – the authority to regulate domestic greenhouse gas emissions. Federal common law actions concerning such emissions are therefore displaced. Lastly, while the Clean Air Act has nothing to say about regulating foreign emissions, judicial caution and foreign policy concerns counsel against permitting such claims to proceed under federal common law absent congressional direction. And since no such permission exists, each of the City’s claims is barred and its complaint must be dismissed.
The case was, IMO stupid and rightly dismissed: grandstanding pols wasting taxpayers money in order to burnish their own credentials. That the appeal meets the same fate is hardly a surprise; and hopefully it will be obvious even to them that trying the Supremes is dumb-as-rocks.

The meninwigs note that Even though every single person who uses gas and electricity – whether in travelling by bus, cab, Uber, or jitney, or in receiving home deliveries via FedEx, Amazon, or UPS – contributes to global warming, the City asserts that its taxpayers should not have to shoulder the burden of financing the City’s preparations to mitigate the effects of global warming; and this I think is why NYC's - and similar - cases are morally bankrupt even laying aside the legal aspects. But I've said that many times before. They miss a trick, though: they write As the City sees it, the Producers have known for decades that their fossil fuel products pose a severe risk to the planet’s climate but they fail to point out that the City also knew this just as well, as did any moderately well-informed citizen.

And we have the Alsupian To permit this suit to proceed under state law would further risk upsetting the careful balance that has been struck between the prevention of global warming, a project that necessarily requires national standards and global participation, on the one hand, and energy production, economic growth, foreign policy, and national security, on the other.

The vague attempted novelty of this claim was to attempt to side-step the obvious problems by using the law of nuisance. But this gets short shrift: That Congress chose to preempt the federal common law of nuisance with a well-defined and robust statutory and regulatory scheme of environmental law is by no means surprising. Numerous courts have bemoaned the “often . . . ‘vague’ and ‘indeterminate’” standards attached to nuisance law. And so on.


Climate change and state evolution - Giacomo Benati and Carmine Guerriero, PNAS

1 comment:

Phil said...

Ah yes, the whole governance issue all over again. A global commons.

Unrestricted CO2 release will trash the climate, but there is no currently working idea as to how to limit the CO2. Maybe the threat of lawsuits might change behavior? Seems at least possible.

It is easier to criticize than to do. And it is even easier to criticize when the intent is to block any and all actions to reduce fossil fuel usage. No you, Stoat, but the people you get your political ideas from.

There are some working ideas to reduce, not limit but reduce CO2 release. About the only successful actions to date are subsidies for LED bulbs (wildly successful, global impact, 1.5% reduction in global CO2 600 million tonnes per year for a cost of $10 million dollars, the "L" prize), subsidies for electric cars (might be successful in a few decades, potentially global impact), subsidies for PV and wind to increase volume and lower prices (potentially global impact), emissions trading in EU and California (small local success) and carbon taxes in Canada (small local success).

Of course the solution is a local carbon tax, and I got a bridge to sell.