June 25, 2018; New York Times
In September 2017, NPQ wrote about the efforts of the cities of San Francisco and Oakland, California, to sue fossil fuel companies such as ExxonMobil, BP, and Chevron to get compensation for the costs involved in dealing with climate change. Last week, Judge William Alsup of San Francisco’s Federal District Court, dismissed the case.
Alsup pointed out in a 16-page opinion that no municipality has succeeded with a nuisance claim due to climate change to date. NPQ also reported that public nuisance lawsuits have not succeeded. Nevertheless, the lawsuits haven’t slowed; there are over a hundred cases, public nuisance and liability, still pending, including a suit by New York City and the “Climate Kids” constitutional climate lawsuit backed by the nonprofit Our Children’s Trust. The Climate Kids have an October 29th court date.
Though the judge acknowledged the science of global warming with a lengthy explanation, he passed the responsibility to deal with a problem that comprehensive to the legislative and executive branches of the federal government. Judge Alsup noted in his opinion, “The problem deserves a solution on a more vast scale than can be supplied by a district judge or jury in a public nuisance case.” Under California’s common law, public nuisance is cited in cases where there is an interference of p