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Connecticut Post: CT’s business climate already suffering; frivolous climate lawsuits won’t help

It’s no secret that Connecticut has a ways to go to be more friendly place to do business. Our state has the second highest tax rate in the U.S. and had three of the slowest-growing urban job markets in the entire nation over the past five years. According to the Tax Foundation’s 2019 State Business Tax Climate Index, we rank No. 47 overall, coming up dead last in property taxes and scoring similarly poor on other measures. Cities like Hartford, New Haven and Bridgeport are growing slowly relative to other large and mid-size cities in the U.S.

The new isn’t all bad, of course. Connecticut’s unemployment has fallen to just 3.8 percent, despite anemic growth in jobs. And while this is cause for some optimism, it comes on the heels of Cigna, a major employer in the health insurance sector, threatening to leave the state just as others have in recent years.

With this in context in mind, one thing should be clear. Connecticut should do everything possible to avoid other negative impacts on the business climate. This includes frivolous litigation targeting manufacturers that could further drive companies from our state.

In recent years, local governments from coast to coast have joined with for-profit trial attorneys to label manufacturers as “public nuisances” when it comes to climate change, attempting to score big paydays by linking manufacturers to rising sea levels and other climate change symptoms. Landmark lawsuits in San Francisco and Oakland, as well as in New York City, have employed the strategy of using courts, as opposed to our elected officials, to litigate climate change. Of course, the real motive is money. City officials are trying to collect money for infrastructure and they are suing energy manufacturers by partnering with profit-motivated trial attorneys seeking a big payday for themselves.

Fortunately, this strategy of labeling manufacturers as “public nuisances” has repeatedly failed in the courts. In fact, three significant cases were dismissed in 2018 by federal judges. In the case of San Francisco and Oakland, Judge William Alsup of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California last June dismissed the climate lawsuits filed by these cities. Alsup wrote that climate change issues “demand the expertise of our government agencies, our diplomats, our Executive, and at least the Senate.” The place for such issues, he reasoned, was certainly not the courts.

The full article can be read here.