The Environment as an Excuse for Private Litigation

Last Friday the Washington Times bannered a story across the top of page one, “Climate bill could trigger lawsuit landslide,” with the inspirational lead:

Self-proclaimed victims of global warming or those who “expect to suffer” from it – from beachfront property owners to asthmatics – for the first time would be able to sue the federal government or private businesses over greenhouse gas emissions under a little-noticed provision slipped into the House climate bill.

This bad idea is circulating. From Associated Oregon Industries, a summary of SB 962:

“Open Season” bill encourages lawsuits against agriculture, businesses, and forestry – local government immune.

A late breaking bill in the Senate Judiciary committee, SB 962, would allow any person “adversely affected” by a “violation of a state environmental law (or any permit), or by the failure of a state agency to enforce a state environmental law” to file for “injunctive and other equitable relief.”  Attorney fees may be awarded to successful plaintiffs for expenses including costs of expert witnesses, supporting studies, and reports.  The provisions of SB 962 expressly do not apply to violations by “local government.”

The bill text is here.

Leave a Reply