WSJ: The Climate-Change Tort Racket 

Posted: June 9, 2018 by oldbrew in climate, Legal, News
Tags: , ,

Oil extraction [image credit:]

The sub-heading to this is: ‘Liberal cities attempt a climate shake down of oil firms’. These cities run fuel-powered vehicles by the hundreds but still want massive compensation from oil companies. Success would likely make fuel prices rise to recover any losses.
H/T Climate Depot

San Francisco, Oakland, New York and Seattle have sued five global oil giants—BP, Chevron, ConocoPhillips, ExxonMobil and Royal Dutch Shell —for billions in future damages from climate change, reports the WSJ.

Brass-knuckled plaintiff firm Hagens Berman Sobol Shapiro has been shopping around the lawsuit to other cities desperate for cash.

No court has recognized common-law claims for injuries supposedly caused by climate change, and the Supreme Court unanimously ruled in AEP v. Connecticut (2011) that the Clean Air Act pre-empts public nuisance torts against corporations for greenhouse-gas emissions. So the cities are now arguing that the mere production and promotion of fossil fuels create a public nuisance, and the suits are heading to court.

“We won the Second World War with fossil fuels. If we didn’t have fossil fuels, we would have lost that war and every other war,” the judge mused during a recent hearing. “And so we have gotten a huge benefit from the use of fossil fuels, right?” Plaintiff attorney Steve Berman agreed.

Judge Alsup also pointed out that the federal government and states have encouraged the production of fossil fuels. “If the nation is saying, ‘please do it,’ how can we hold them liable for that?” he asked.

The cities’ ostensible trump card was a document purporting to show that the oil companies concealed evidence that they knew for decades that fossil fuels contribute to global warming. But as the judge noted, this “smoking gun” was merely a “slide show that somebody had gone to the [United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change] and was reporting on what the IPCC had reported, and that was it. Nothing more.”

When Judge Alsup asked for an example of an out-of-pocket cost that San Francisco has paid due to climate change, Mr. Berman replied: “We have people that we’ve had to employ, outside consultants, to study global warming. Had to hire them to figure out how high the sea wall should be.”

Even this was contradicted by a 2017 San Francisco general-obligation bond document that says “the City is unable to predict whether sea-level rise or other impacts of climate change or flooding from a major storm will occur.” If Mr. Berman is right, then the Securities and Exchange Commission should prosecute San Francisco for a fraudulent bond offering.

Cities are demanding billions for an “abatement fund” that will help backfill their budgets.

Continued here.

  1. tallbloke says:

    “Brass-knuckled plaintiff firm Hagens Berman Sobol Shapiro has been shopping around the lawsuit to other cities desperate for cash.”

    It’ll be fun to see what ‘evidence’ they present next time.

  2. oldbrew says:

    “We have people that we’ve had to employ, outside consultants, to study global warming. Had to hire them to figure out how high the sea wall should be.”

    How did the consultants come up with a number? Not by reading IPCC reports we hope 😆

  3. ivan says:

    Has any of the cities done a cost benefit analysis on their virtue signalling and worshipping at the church of climatology? Maybe they are afraid of doing so because that would show up the cost of the green dream to those that pay the taxes.

  4. oldbrew says:

    Deadly wildfires in California last year were caused by downed power lines

    A dozen wildfires in Northern California last October were started by “electric power and distribution lines, and the failure of power poles” from Pacific Gas and Electric (PG&E), according to a release from the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection.

    Courts could be busy with compensation claims.

  5. J Martin says:

    Well I’m not a lawyer but I wouldn’t have thought that they can win this in court. It’s not as if the oil companies forced people go buy cars and fill them with fossil fuels. They could have chosen to bicycle or walk to work. The oil companies provide supply to meet demand. They could refuse to provide any supplies and close all fuel stations, the court case would come to a very quick end since very few of the participants would be able to get there.

    This is a farcical case which should be dismissed in short order.

  6. oldbrew says:

    They could refuse to provide any supplies

    The military would be on their case pretty quick 😎

  7. Phoenix44 says:

    This misses the point: the oil companies are not being sued for doing something that is and was entirely legal – providing fossil fuels. They are being sued for “conspiracy”, the deliberate collusion to hide the damage climate change will cause.

    You cannot be taken to court – even in California – for acting in accordance with the law.

    Thus the cities are not being hypocritical per se, but claiming that had the oil companies not conspired to hide what they knew, the cities might have stopped using fossil fuels and so stopped future damages to the cities.

    This is the tobacco argument. The cigarette companies were not fined for doing something legal – making cigarettes – but for conspiring to keep secret the harm cigarette smoking does. The same argument is being used against Big Sugar; that they knew sugar was harmful but keep it secret and influenced research to suggest fat was the problem.

    Tobacco companies did collude and lie, so the precedent exists.

  8. oldbrew says:

    Two problems:
    1) where’s the actual evidence – not models – that ‘climate change’ (whatever it is claimed to be) is more damaging than ‘no climate change’ (or at least some other version of climate change that is supposed to have been overtaken by man’s actions)?

    2) why are the complainants still using fossil fuels in large quantities? Are they saying they’re addicted to them, or what?

  9. nickreality65 says:

    Point One:
    The notion that the earth’s surface is 33 C warmer with a “greenhouse” atmosphere is rubbish.
    The 15 C aka 288 K is a wild ass guesstimate for only the land area’s surface temperature. (IPCC AR5 Glossary)
    The -18 C aka 255 K is an unrelated-to-the-surface & with-atmosphere theoretical “what if?” S-B ideal BB equilibrium temperature calculated from the globally averaged 240 W/m^2 OLR at ToA (100 km).
    The lunar papers by Volokin and Kramm clearly confirm that the earth without an atmosphere and 30% albedo will be much hotter not cooler.

    Point Two:
    A fanciful up/down/”back” GHG radiation energy loop attempts to explain a physical mechanism behind this erroneous 33 C warmer premise, an explanation involving copious amounts of QED handwavium.
    This “energy” loop violates thermodynamics by 1) creating energy out of nowhere, 2) moving energy from cold to hot without additional work, 3) moving energy in a perpetual 100% efficient loop.
    The K-T balance 396 W/m^2 upwelling radiation is not a physical fact, but a theoretical “what if?” S-B ideal BB calculation for any surface at 389 K.
    The allegedly “measured” up/down welling radiation is an illusion due to IR instruments not properly corrected for the actual emissivity. (Think of VW et. al. “tweaking” emissions tests.)

    Point Three:
    No GHG energy loop = No RGHE = No human/CO2 role in climate behavior, sea levels, ocean pH, sea ice & caps, polar bears, etc.

  10. […] via WSJ: The Climate-Change Tort Racket  — Tallbloke’s Talkshop […]

  11. nickreality65 says:

    Three decades of rancorous handwavium debate over evidence for and the physics behind the Radiative Greenhouse House Effect and man-caused climate change, aka CAGW.

    What a waste since none of it is real.

    The earth being 33 C warmer with an atmosphere is based on the difference between two completely unrelated made up numbers: 288 K, a wild ass guess pulled straight out of WMO’s butt and 255 K, a theoretical S-B BB ideal calculation for the 240 W/m^2 Long Wave Infrared Radiation leaving the top of the atmosphere.

    Furthermore, the lunar studies by Volokin and Kramm clearly conclude that without an atmosphere the earth would be much like the moon, a barren rock with the lit/hot side maybe 390 K, the dark/cold side maybe 190 K and not even colder by 33 C.

    The LWIR up/down/”back” GHG energy warming loop is a theoretical S-B BB ideal baseline calculation for any surface at 288 K and likewise not real. Contiguous participating media, i.e. atmospheric molecules, render impossible any BB emission from the surface.

    No 33 C warmer + No GHG energy loop = No RGHE & No CAGW.

    Am I wrong?
    Always possible – for all of us.
    ’cause if I’m not wrong decades of research, “evidence,” publications and billions of dollars goes straight in the dumper and the entire trillion dollar global climate change industry is suddenly unemployed.

  12. nickreality65 says:

    “I would rather have questions that can’t be answered than answers that can’t be questioned.”

    ― Richard Feynman

    For the greenhouse theory to operate as advertised requires a GHG up/down/”back” LWIR energy loop to “trap” energy and “warm” the earth and atmosphere.

    For the GHG up/down/”back” radiation energy loop to operate as advertised requires ideal black body, 1.0 emissivity, LWIR of 396 W/m^2 from the surface. (K-T diagram)

    The surface cannot do that because of a contiguous participating media, i.e. atmospheric molecules, moving over 50% ((17+80)/160) of the surface heat through non-radiative processes, i.e. conduction, convection, latent evaporation/condensation. (K-T diagram) Because of the contiguous turbulent non-radiative processes at the air interface the oceans cannot have an emissivity of 0.97.

    No GHG energy loop & no greenhouse effect means no CO2/man caused climate change and no Gorebal warming.

    Nick Schroeder, BSME, PE