InsideClimateNews Touts First State to Sue Big Oil, After Two Cities Lose

The climate alarmists writers at InsideClimateNews (ICN) seemed thrilled that Rhode Island became the first state to sue oil companies over climate change.

Rhode Island’s State Attorney General Peter F. Kilmartin filed suit against 14 oil and gas companies and affiliates on July 2, 2018, claiming “Big oil knew for decades that greenhouse gas pollution from their operations and their products were having a significant and detrimental impact on the earth’s climate.”

ICN touted the latest lawsuit, in spite of the fact that two city lawsuits like it were dismissed by a California judge late last month. ICN didn’t mention that dismissal until the 11th paragraph of its story.

On June 25, Judge William Alsup of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California dismissed climate lawsuits by San Francisco and Oakland against five oil companies, because he said the matter was outside the court’s purview. The New York Times called it a “stinging defeat” that “raising warning flags for other local governments” trying to do the same thing. New York is one of those cities.

Alsup did not disagree with the alarmists’ science, but still decided it was not appropriate for the court to decide.

“[T]he problem deserves a solution on a more vast scale than can be supplied by a District Judge or jury in a public nuisance case.” He also wrote, “The court will stay its hand in favor of solutions by the legislative and executive branches.”

But, he did recognize the role fossil fuel energy has played in developing the economy and world — a point often ignored by opponents of oil and gas.

“Our industrial revolution and the development of our modern world has literally been fueled by oil and coal ... Without those fuels, virtually all of our monumental progress would have been impossible,” Alsup wrote.

The Rhode Island lawsuit is also trying to use public nuisance laws against the oil companies, according to Reuters.

Rhode Island’s anti-oil lawsuit is unsurprising given the attitudes of one of its liberal senators. In 2015, Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse, D-RI, called for climate skeptics to be investigated and prosecuted through RICO (racketeering) laws. He wrote a Washington Post op-ed against people who disagree with him — labeling skeptics a “climate denial network” — and calling for RICO prosecution.

Whitehouse promoted the lawsuit in his remarks at the state press conference announcing the lawsuit saying, "The fossil fuel industry is fond of saying, you're in the wrong forum, you shouldn't be going to the courts, you should be going to Congress.”

"The reason they say that is because they have Congress locked up with their political power and their money and their influence,” he claimed.


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Julia A. Seymour's picture