New York City and Oakland seem to have anticipated that the Clean Air Act would displace their claims based on emissions within the U.S. Both suits also alleged oil companies engage in global oil sales so they're liable for worldwide emissions.
"New York City Mayor's Bill de Blasio effort to curry favor with the environmental billionaires who want to limit human progress and control our daily energy supply failed today when U.S. Circuit Judge John Keenan ruled to dismiss New York City's money grab lawsuit against U.S. energy companies".
The city says it will appeal.
Shell said in a statement that the ruling "reaffirms our view that climate change is a complex societal challenge that requires sound governmental policy and is not an issue for the courts". To litigate such an action for injuries from foreign greenhouse gas emissions in federal court would severely infringe upon the foreign-policy decisions that are squarely within the purview of the political branches of the US government.
The new batch of lawsuits argues state nuisance law still applies, but Keenan rejected the idea that state law would apply to the city's lawsuit, saying climate change was an area of "federal concern", The New York Times reported. "But these same defendants and their trade groups have fought successfully against even modest laws and regulations to cut the carbon pollution from burning fossil fuels that causes global warming", Ken Kimmel, president of the Union of Concerned Scientists said in a statement.
The companies won a similar ruling in June that threw out complaints by the cities of San Francisco and Oakland, California. Judge Keenan said the framing didn't make a difference.
Keenan also said that because the city has benefitted from fossil fuels, a point emphasized by the oil companies in their hearing in front of Keenan, the city is culpable for climate change as well. The city experienced more than $70 billion in property damages from Hurricane Sandy and has launched a $20 billion initiative to protect residents and infrastructure from future climate change-related extreme weather events.
"The Mayor believes big polluters must be held accountable for their contributions to climate change and the damage it will cause New York City".
Hagens Berman, for example, is also handling a climate lawsuit against oil companies brought by King County, Washington.
Lastly, Keenan concluded that the city's claims raise concerns about separation of powers and foreign policy because NY is suing two foreign companies - BP and Shell - and seeking to hold all five firms liable for worldwide greenhouse gas emissions.
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