Kivalina Dismissed: Who Will Notice and Report?

We’ve been looking for the mainstream news reports that a U.S. District Judge in California had dismissed the lawsuit brought by an Alaskan native village against oil, coal and power companies for causing global warming. Blog posts (here and here) yesterday linked to Judge Saundra Brown Armstrong’s order granting the defendants’ motion to dismiss in Native Village of Kivalina et al. v. Exxonmobil Corporation et al.

The order was issued September 30 and yet, judging from Google News, no regular news outlet has picked up on the developments. (Google News is not omniscient, we know, but one new story would have produced others that would have eventually been caught by the Internet spiders.)

We expect it’s just a matter of time and every outlet that wrote extensively about the suit will follow up appropriately. The law offices of Matthew Pawa, the defendants’ attorney, has posted links to a variety of stories on the litigation:

UPDATE (2:45 p.m.): Ah, The Houston Business Journal is the first media outlet to report the judge’s order, time, 1:24 p.m. Central, in “Court dismisses global warming case against Big Oil.” Reporter Ford Gunter includes a comment from the defendants’ side:

“Rather than trivializing the suit as an ‘ordinary tort case,’ the District Court found that the matter could not be resolved without considering the truly global nature of the issue — and the lack of any ascertainable standards to determine its resolution,” said Houston attorney Richard Faulk, head of the environmental practice group and chair of the litigation department at Gardere Wynne Sewell LLP.

The ruling goes against the Second Circuit Court of Appeals’ ruling on utility emissions last month in Connecticut v. AEP.

“Contrary to the sweeping and unprecedented ruling of the Second Circuit, the Kivalina court wisely recognized that global climate change allegations cannot support federal question jurisdiction,” Faulk said. “Unlike the Second Circuit, the court saw major distinctions between ordinary pollution cases and planet-wide climate claims, and was not willing to indulge its creativity to invent liability criteria on a planetary scale.”

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