The United States Conference of Mayors (USCM) kicked off its winter meeting in Washington, D.C., this week, and they have plenty of policy issues on their plate: crime, immigration, housing, the environment and the economy. On these last two issues, MAP would like to caution the nation’s mayors: political lawsuits against manufacturers won’t strengthen our environment; they sabotage our economy.
Unfortunately, eight cities and counties in California and New York have already decided to take the approach of filing lawsuits to impose legal liability for climate change on manufacturers. In their haste to make headlines seven of those municipalities now are facing scrutiny for contradictory statements in their legal filings and their bond offerings to investors. In short, they did not disclose in those bond offerings the same climate-related risks they detailed in their lawsuits. Not only does this call into question the real intent behind the lawsuits but also the integrity of their bond offerings. That is a serious economic issue for mayors scrambling to balance the books.
Not to mention that such lawsuits have repeatedly failed in court including a unanimous 8-0 decision in the U.S. Supreme Court.
Addressing climate change is important but the courts are not the answer. Manufacturers across the nation have been driving innovation and working hard to reduce their environmental footprint. In fact, since 1990, manufacturers have reduced their greenhouse gas emissions by 10 percent, all while increasing their value to the economy by 19 percent.
Lawsuits are not the answer to climate change and only serve to enrich plaintiffs’ attorneys and raise politicians’ profiles, while jeopardizing the jobs of hard-working Americans. This flawed legal strategy will do nothing to strengthen our communities.