By Phil Goldberg
The Baltimore Sun’s editorial favoring climate litigation misses the point (”Baltimore County Council fails a (pretty darn easy) climate change test,” Nov. 29). Before Thanksgiving, the Baltimore County Council started debating a request from a law firm to sue companies that provide oil and gas that families and businesses rely on every day, as part of a national campaign to blame climate change on the energy sector.
A bipartisan group of council members rightly pointed out flaws with the litigation, namely that it will do nothing to solve climate change. The law firm then pulled the request.
An honest dialogue about the lawsuit would have been revealing. It has no merit. The U.S. Supreme Court dismissed an earlier version of these lawsuits in 2011, cautioning that climate litigation raises national and international legislative and regulatory policy matters that cannot be decided by courts.
Nevertheless, two dozen communities around the country have signed up for this second round of lawsuits. There is now a clear track record of what this litigation is about — politics. The litigation is funded by groups with a political agenda: to “raise the price” of fuel and hold “consumers responsible” for climate change. By going to courts, they are trying to avoid public input as well as the checks and balances of the legislative and regulatory processes.
That’s why community and environmental leaders are sounding the alarm. For example, Kathleen Curry, a former Democratic leader in the Colorado legislature, said these lawsuits hurt families and businesses because many people cannot afford higher gas and electric bills.
Annapolis resident Ted Garrish, a former general counsel at the U.S. Department of Energy, explained that legally “it is impossible to point fingers” at any companies because climate change is a global phenomenon.
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