Ad Hoc Lawsuits No Way to Address Climate Issues

As noted below, the National Association of Manufactures and other business groups filed an an amicus briefing urging the U.S. Supreme Court to review a challenge by electric utilities’ to the Second Circuit Court of Appeals’ ruling in the key global warming case, Connecticut v. American Electric Power. The Supreme Court today granted that review.

The NAM’s friend-of-the-court brief (available here) was prepared by Gardere Wynne Sewell LLP in Texas. The firm issued a news release today in response to the Supreme Court’s announcement, “Gardere’s Faulk Praises U.S. Supreme Court for Agreeing to Hear AEP v. Connecticut Appeal“:

HOUSTON — The U.S. Supreme Court today agreed to hear an appeal in American Electric Power v. Connecticut, in which public authorities claim that public utilities’ greenhouse gas emissions contributed to climate change. Power companies argue that the universal issues of climate change cannot be solved by ad hoc lawsuits, but rather should be resolved by the political branches of government. 

Richard O. Faulk, chair of the Litigation Department of Gardere Wynne Sewell LLP in Texas, and Gardere partner John S. Gray, who recently filed a brief before the court in on behalf of several industry associations supporting the utilities’ arguments, praised the High Court for acting decisively in deciding to review the issue of whether private tort claims based on global warming are legitimate.

Mr. Faulk says the Supreme Court’s decision to hear the case is a “positive development that may foreshadow the demise of mass tort litigation based on global warming.  The use of isolated and ad hoc lawsuits against an arbitrarily selected group of emitters cannot possibly solve the global warming phenomenon.  The issue is best left to the international community, the Congress and the EPA, which have the resources and power to deal with this alleged problem. Hopefully, the Supreme Court will now recognize the primacy of those institutions.”

The NAM’s co-amici are the American Chemistry Council, American Coatings Association, National Petrochemical and Refiners Association, Property Casualty Insurers Association of America and the Public Nuisance Fairness Coalition.

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