Trump: Climate Change Lawsuits Interfere With Policy, Should Be Dismissed

Source: By Forbes • Posted: Friday, May 18, 2018

President Donald Trump’s administration has asked a federal judge in San Francisco to toss lawsuits by coastal communities that seek to hold the energy sector liable for climate change. (JIM WATSON/AFP/Getty Images)

The Trump administration disapproves of climate change litigation initiated by cities and counties in California and the private attorneys they hired on a contingency fee.

On May 10, the federal government submitted a friend-of-the-court brief in a lawsuit filed by San Francisco and Oakland, urging a federal judge to dismiss public nuisance claims that, the federal government says, attempt to work around federal law and case precedent.

“The cities ask this court to fashion a new judicial remedy to address the claimed nuisance of sea-level rise caused by emissions from the combustion of fossil-fuel products produced and sold by Defendants,” the brief says.

“The cities’ approach is novel, but their goal is not: By suing defendants that sell fossil fuels, rather than defendants that use them for combustion to create energy, the cities hope to avoid the fate of the plaintiffs in (AEP v. Connecticut), while seeking the same goal through the same theory.”

AEP was a 2011 decision by the U.S. Supreme Court that held companies can’t be sued over their emissions under common law (public nuisance is also a common law claim) because the Environmental Protection Agency is tasked with regulating them under the Clean Air Act.

The federal government is also facing a climate change lawsuit. It was filed by a group of youths that recently defeated a dismissal request from the Trump administration. The case was filed in 2015 against the Obama administration and alleges the government contributed to climate change.

The California cases target large energy companies like Exxon, Chevron and British Petroleum. They were the first of this recent round to be filed, with New York City, Boulder, CO, and King County, WA, following.