Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Decision signals death of 'public nuisance' climate cases

Intensified storm and sea-surge damage is steadily eroding the Alaskan fishing village
of Kivalina, threatening its very existence. The villagers blame climate change and sued ExxonMobil and more than 20 other oil companies and utilities whose production of greenhouse gases, they contend, is responsible.

But it's not only Mother Nature that's giving the villagers a pounding.

Their lawsuit, based on the common law theory of nuisance, was dismissed by a federal district court in 2009 on the grounds that regulating greenhouse emissions was a political rather than a legal issue and one that needed to be resolved by Congress and the Administration rather than by courts.

On Friday, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the earlier ruling.

Foley Hoag attorney attorney Seth Jaffe writes today in Law & The Environment that the decision "may have sounded the death knell for public nuisance litigation concerning the impacts of climate change."

Read Mr. Jaffe's piece here and the full decision: Native Village of Kivalina v. ExxonMobil 

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