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Maui County Council Vote For Climate Litigation Is Misguided

Maui Now reported that the Maui County Council last Friday gave its full support to Mayor Michael Victorino’s decision to sue energy manufacturers over local impacts on climate change. This vote is yet another move in the climate litigation campaign that has proven unsuccessful and is counterproductive to substantive efforts of addressing climate change.

  • The County Council’s authorization resulted in the decision to retain Sher Edling LLP to file the litigation. To learn more about Sher Edling, check out Beyond the Courtroom, a report from the Manufacturers’ Accountability Project (MAP). This report exposes who is funding Sher Edling and public relations consultants to recruit cities, including Maui, as plaintiffs in this litigation.
  • Localities have no legal basis to target energy manufacturers. Click here to learn about recent federal rulings that dismissed climate change lawsuits exactly like the one Maui promises to file.
  • MAP Special Counsel Phil Goldberg has explained why these lawsuits are groundless and why they have failed again and again. For a quick primer on why the legal theory employed by the plaintiffs—public nuisance law—does not impose liability for global climate change on any single group of businesses or industry, check out this 90-second video by MAP.
  • Further, in a column published by the Honolulu Star-Advertiser, MAP Counsel Chris Appel explained why this litigation is counterproductive to those who care about fighting climate change. Innovation and collaboration, not litigation, is the way to deal with climate change.

The bottom line is that selling energy people need and use every day is not unlawful, and therefore not a liability concern for the courts. Climate change is a problem that needs to be addressed, but circumventing Congress and federal agencies is neither a viable legal option nor productive.