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Momentum Building for Dismissal of Frivolous Litigation

U.S. District Court Judge William Alsup’s dismissal of the San Francisco and Oakland climate cases last week not only handed a significant victory to manufacturers in America but also earned praise from state attorneys general and editorial boards alike. The Rhode Island attorney general should take note and withdraw his state’s equally frivolous, trial-lawyer driven suit against manufacturers.

Indiana, Oklahoma and Utah Attorneys General Weighed In:

  • Indiana Attorney General Curtis Hill, who led a coalition of 15 state attorneys general in support of dismissal, noted, “The court has affirmed what should be obvious—that California localities cannot dictate national energy policy or curb economic activity that occurs outside California. This decision rightly upholds the principles of federalism and appropriate exercise of judicial authority.” He also highlighted the hypocritical nature of the lawsuits noting that San Francisco and Oakland, California, use fossil fuels daily.
  • Oklahoma Attorney General Mike Hunter criticized the climate litigation as a threat to his state’s “crucial energy industry.” He added, “Courtrooms are not the proper place for the global debate on climate change. I encourage other states that have filed similar lawsuits to look at this ruling carefully and realize their litigation is likely to meet the same fate.”
  • Utah Attorney General Sean Reyes praised the ruling as a “significant victory for the separation of powers doctrine” and noted Judge Alsup “cited U.S. Supreme Court precedent finding that the Clean Air Act and the Environmental Protection Agency’s corresponding authority to set emission standards have displaced federal common law nuisance claims pertaining to emissions.”

The Wall Street Journal and New York Post Editorial Boards Applauded the Ruling:

  • The Wall Street Journal editorial board wrote that “Judge Alsup, a Bill Clinton appointee, rightly refrained from trying to regulate global carbon emissions from the bench” and called his ruling a “sound legal guide” for other courts to follow.
  • Similarly, the New York Post editorial board called Judge Alsup’s dismissal of the lawsuits a “blaring wake-up call from the West Coast” to Mayor Bill de Blasio and offered a friendly warning: “De Blasio must know his suit is a long shot at best. No matter: His main goal has been to score political points with progressives and burnish his national bona fides as an anti-fossil-fuel crusader. And, hey—if he does win some cash for the city in the process, all the better.”

New York Lawsuit Reform Group Supports Judge Alsup’s Decision:

  • The New York Post also published an op-ed by the Lawsuit Reform Alliance of New York that praised the dismissal and criticized the injudicious tactic of regulation by litigation: “Real policy decisions should be thought through carefully by government officials who are accountable to the people, not by unelected lawyers and mayors hungry for their moment in the national spotlight.”

Washington State Business Group Praised the Dismissal:

  • Kris Johnson of the Association of Washington Business responded in the Puget Sound Business Journal: “A series of lawsuits is targeting manufacturers throughout the country over the effects of climate change. Using a misguided legal theory, these lawsuits attempt to hold energy manufacturers financially responsible for the impacts of global climate change. Thankfully, a California district judge recently dismissed a similar lawsuit brought by the cities of San Francisco and Oakland, ruling that the courts are not the proper place to deal with the issue. The legislative and executive branches are better suited, Judge William Alsup said.”

The Manufacturers’ Accountability Project will continue to fight to protect the manufacturing sector from these baseless lawsuits.