In Utah, Restraining Suits to Cash in from Global Warming

Utah Gov. Gary Herbert has signed H.B. 395 into law, limiting the liability of a person or business for damage or injury caused by greenhouse emissions. The law is meant to blocks suits brought against utilities, energy producers and manufacturers for having caused global warming.

Litigation like the suit by an Alaskan native village (Kivalina) blaming oil companies for a barrier island’s beach erosion or by Mississippi residents (Comer) for damage caused by Hurricane Katrina are an attempt to achieve political goals through the courts. Besides that, it’s ridiculous and hubristic for any human institution to try to apportion blame for climate phenomena.

As we noted in a previous post, this kind of legislation has an honorable and useful history. Legislatures have moved to rein in speculative lawsuits that attempt to shift individual responsibility for obesity to food manufacturers, for example, or for violent crime to gun manufacturers.

(Hat tip: Walter Olson at Point of Law for reminding us of the legislation.)


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