In a Wall Street Journal column published yesterday, Linda Kelly, senior vice president, general counsel and corporate secretary at the National Association of Manufacturers, explains why making the public policy decisions needed to fight climate change must remain the province of Congress and not driven by liability rulings in cases seeking to scapegoat energy manufacturers. As Kelly notes, “Federal courts have repeatedly dismissed these attempts to assign liability over climate change,” yet environmental activists continue to file them. The right path, she concludes, is to develop policies that will speed and promote innovations to address this shared challenge.
Here are some excerpts from her column:
- “The cities filing these lawsuits along with the staunchest anti-fossil-fuel activists would be hard-pressed to conduct their daily activities without using these products. They, like the rest of us, rely on these fuels, even as they seek compensation from their producers.”
- “It is neither fair nor productive to scapegoat a single industry, especially one already working toward innovative solutions. Just as we have all contributed to the problem of climate change, it is our shared responsibility to figure out how to continue economic and societal progress, while reducing greenhouse-gas emissions.”
- “To try to get around this fact, creative plaintiff lawyers and environmental activists came up with a novel litigation concept: file claims for local governments and others alleging that marketing and selling of fuel, even though necessary and beneficial to modern life, is nevertheless a legal ‘public nuisance.’”
- “Public-nuisance theory, though, has nothing to do with regulating global energy supply. And the notion that these communities are entitled to financial compensation, while using the very products their lawsuits demonize, is nonsensical. Piecemeal lawsuits are particularly counterproductive. . . . It is time to stop pursuing efforts that make headlines but won’t make a difference.”
- “Climate change is a defining challenge of our time, and manufacturers seek to lead the way through innovation. . . . Manufacturers are at the table, working with leaders of both political parties. Notably absent are the plaintiffs’ lawyers and activists seeking to turn this shared global challenge into a litigation issue.”
You can read the full column here.