A Win for the Oil Companies: No Actionable Tort(ure) was Found

This [court] order fully accepts the vast scientific consensus that the combustion of fossil fuels has materially increased atmospheric carbon dioxide levels, which in turn has increased the median temperature of the planet and accelerated sea level rise. However,… — Judge Wm. Alsup

Judge Alsup has spoken. Chevron, ExxonMobil and other of the world’s oil companies, large and small, are breathing easier as a result of his dismissal of the City of Oakland and the People of the State of California v BP P.L.C. et al. The suit is one of several recently filed in both federal and state courts by cities, counties, and states alleging they have suffered a redressable harm at the hands of the big oil.

…against that negative, we must weigh this positive: our industrial revolution and the development of our modern world has literally been fueled by oil and coal. Without those fuels, virtually all of our monumental progress would have been impossible. All of us have benefited.

The negative he is speaking of is global climate change. Unlike a certain unnamed president and his many minions, Alsup was interested in understanding the science behind the claims that global warming is caused by human action and of potentially cataclysmic consequences.

Our litigation forced a public court proceeding on climate science, and now these companies can no longer deny it is real and valid.And so will future litigation!

And so will future litigation!

  • A note to readers: The retirement of Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy promises to have a profound impact on future SCOTUS rulings in climate law cases. Remember that Massachusetts v EPA and other seminal cases were decided by 5–4 majorities. The next Trump nominee will surely be from the ranks of very conservative jurists. Look to Civil Notion in the coming weeks for insights and analysis.

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Joel B. Stronberg

Stronberg is a thought leader in the climate community with over 40 years of experience covering environmental and sustainability issues as a freelancer.