NYC Climate Lawyers on Shaky Legal Ground

June 18, 2018

Forbes reports that the plaintiff’s attorneys in the New York City climate litigation are seeking hefty compensation from oil companies for the act of producing and selling fossil fuels, but are not seeking any type of injunctive relief to stop them from doing so in the future.

Plaintiff’s reasoning in seeking that compensation may also be on shaky ground; New York City’s complaint cites “fossil fuel emissions” as the primary cause of the climate change for which they’re seeking compensation, but Supreme Court precedent dictates that regulation of greenhouse gases is the purview of the Environmental Protection Agency, not federal courts. The plaintiff’s attorneys insist that the suit is about “products,” not emissions, and thus is not pre-empted after all, but a noted legal scholar familiar with the case finds this argument to be nonsensical.

According to New York University Law School Professor Richard Epstein, “The problem with these guys [plaintiff’s lawyers involved in NYC’s climate litigation] is they’re always wrong…the willingness they have to take liberties with the basic situation is incredible.”