I blog about environmental and social justice issues because I am very concerned about the health of the interdependent web of life of which we are a part.

Melting Arctic ice.......beautiful and frightening!

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Monday, January 4, 2010

A Case to Watch

In the U.S. Court of Appeals, Fifth Circuit, Case No. 07-60756. This case represents another major decision regarding citizen enforcement, utilizing common-law actions and seeking damages resulting from corporate greenhouse gas emissions. ....the plaintiffs, residents and owners of lands and property along the Mississippi Gulf coast, filed this putative class action in the district court against the named defendants, corporations that have principal offices in other states but are doing business in Mississippi. The plaintiffs allege that defendants’ operation of energy, fossil fuels, and chemical industries in the United States caused the emission of greenhouse gasses that contributed to global warming, viz., the increase in global surface air and water temperatures, that in turn caused a rise in sea levels and added to the ferocity of Hurricane Katrina, which combined to destroy the plaintiffs’ private property, as well as public property useful to them.
Those cases have been remanded for further proceedings. But the rulings have paved the way for climate change litigation in the U.S. - and possibly in Canada.  Most provinces track the big emitters of greenhouse gases. Starting this month in British Columbia, industries emitting more than 10,000 tonnes of greenhouse gases per year will be required to report annually.
A list like that would give litigants a place to start when deciding who to blame for damages caused by climate change.
I'm quite sure the companies mining the tar sands in Alberta are watching this closely.  Very closely ....and worrying at night.  After all, a paper published in the (peer-reviewed) Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences concludes that  "oil sands development is a greater source of contamination than previously realized."  Best study tort law on those sleepless nights .....

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