If legislation isn’t working fast enough to advance a political narrative, consider litigation as a viable alternative. That seems to be the new mantra for far-left progressives currently working the law to ensure compliance with their wildly unpopular climate agenda who have mastered the art of misapplying “public nuisance” lawsuits to achieve their goals.
Historically, public nuisance claims have been reserved for solving local issues that are more annoying than dangerous. These suits include noise pollution, building neglect, foul odors, pollution of a public stream, or excessive light. They are used to settle a dispute between property owners, with one owner claiming a diminished ability to use or enjoy property because of some form of interference from the other.
But progressives have found new ways to use nuisance lawsuits to advance their own policies.
It started by suing pharmaceutical companies for developing pain medications that can be abused. It carried on through suing car manufacturers like Kia and Hyundai for contributing to crime by making their cars too easy to steal. And, of course, suing gun manufacturers because firearms are used to commit crimes.
Climate change suits are nothing new. From suing beverage companies over single-use bottles to lawsuits against oil companies for intentionally “misleading” the public on climate change, it’s clear that the left has lost their collective minds in the pursuit of life-altering litigation and the ultimate control of every aspect of life in America. All in the name of saving the planet.
And, it turns out, also in the name of lining the pockets of trial lawyers and municipal governments.
In Boulder, Colorado, a nuisance suit has been filed against ExxonMobil and Suncor by city officials, who want the companies to pay for replacing bridges and roads, green-fitting buildings, and funding climate change educational programs.
Meanwhile, Oregon’s Multnomah County, which includes Portland, sued major oil companies like Chevron and Exxon for $50 billion because of a nationwide summer heat wave in 2021.
The Boulder case was brought before the Supreme Court of the United States, which declined to rule on the jurisdictional questions it raised. Do these cases belong in the court system, or should they be addressed by the EPA and Congress? The left is hoping SCOTUS remains neutral, as they want to keep the claims in state court, where the rulings are more likely to be in their favor.
For cases like these, state courts are preferred venues for nonsensical climate change nuisance lawsuits because these courts, unlike federal courts, have been tainted with state-bar influence known as “merit selection, trial lawyer donations, and activist campaign donations.
These climate change nuisance legal cases showcase an unholy alliance between trial lawyers and leaders of progressive cities, with the clear goal of shaping public policy and expanding their bank accounts.
Progressives have been emboldened by rulings such as a landmark decision against the state of Montana earlier in August 2023. In that decision, a state judge ruled in favor of young climate change activists suing the state because it favored fossil fuels. The plaintiffs argued that Montana was violating its Constitution, which guarantees residents “a clean and healthful environment.”
The ruling marked a first-of-its-kind decision in the United States and could be an ominous warning about the potential success of future court cases seeking to shut down fossil fuel production and use. Montana relies heavily on the coal industry for its economy, and the recent decision casts doubt on the state’s ability to move forward with fossil fuel projects. Thousands of workers will be affected by the court’s decision.
Progressives are testing the waters and seeing what boundaries they can comfortably cross. The nuisance suits are clearly targeting fossil fuel production, and it’s a matter of time before they sue auto manufacturers for producing cars that run on traditional fuel.
It’s entirely possible that progressives have learned how to sidestep the legislative processes necessary to ban gas stoves and other pet projects they need to advance to achieve their climate change goals. Leave it to liberals to twist a law aimed at irresponsible pet owners and their barking dogs into a weapon for advancing climate change on Americans.
It should be against the law.