U.S. District Judge William Alsup just dismissed several nuisance lawsuits against BP Plc, Exxon Mobil Corp. and Chevron Corp. filed by environmental activists claiming they are responsible for global warming.
The judge said that such lawsuits were not the answer to stop climate change.
“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,” Alsup wrote Monday while dismissing the suits filed by the cities of San Francisco and Oakland.
Per the L.A. Times:
Litigation by local governments in the U.S. including New York City, Boulder, Colo., and eight California cities and counties is a new front in the global fight against climate change. The suits thrown out Monday sought to recover the cost of infrastructure needed to protect against rising sea levels. ConocoPhillips and Royal Dutch Shell Plc were also among the defendants.
The judge said it’s true that carbon dioxide released from fossil fuels has contributed to global warming, but on the other hand, “development of our modern world has literally been fueled by oil and coal.”
“All of us have benefited,” Alsup wrote. “Having reaped the benefit of that historic progress, would it really be fair to now ignore our own responsibility in the use of fossil fuels and place the blame for global warming on those who supplied what we demanded?”
Alsup insisted that if there are going to be any actual solutions to the supposed problems of climate change, they won’t be had by lawsuits, but only by actions of Congress via legislation.
“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 judge said.
Actually, the courts do not have that legitimate role, judge Alsup. Although, Alsup is right that judges have usurped that role. So, it is refreshing to see a judge at least recognize the fact.
The city of San Francisco tried to put a happy face on the dismissal of the suit.
“We’re pleased that the court recognized that the science of global warming is no longer in dispute,” city spokesman John Cote said. “Our litigation forced a public court proceeding on climate science, and now these companies can no longer deny it is real and valid.”
Follow Warner Todd Huston on Twitter @warnerthuston.
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