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James Madison Institute Vice President Sal Nuzzo: Florida’s elected officials must reject climate litigation

As stewards of a multi-sector economy that extends far beyond the state’s sunny beaches, Florida’s elected officials have unique opportunities to lead the nation in adopting strategies to create jobs and avoiding moves that needlessly antagonize businesses.

A stark example of what to avoid was recently on display with an environmental advocacy group’s petition for the Fort Lauderdale City Commission to be part of strategy to bring lawsuits against manufacturers in the energy sector over hypothetical impacts of climate change.

Starting in 2017, officials in San Francisco and other California municipalities, New York City, Colorado, Rhode Island and other states have gone to court seeking possibly hundreds of billions of dollars from energy companies whom they wrongly allege are responsible for the rise in sea levels and wildfires associated with climate change.

The suits have been encouraged by trial lawyers working with environmental activists. Because they are working on a contingency basis, it is costing these cities and states nothing. Some elected officials were likely approached precisely because it could boost their progressive environmental credentials. If one of these cases were to succeed, the trial lawyers would rake in tens of millions of dollars.

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