Niskanen Center supports NYC's climate change lawsuit ahead of dismissal hearing; Center is representing Boulder in similar suit

By John Breslin | Jun 11, 2018

NEW YORK (Legal Newsline) – A free market think tank has filed an amicus, or friend of the court, brief in support of the city of New York in a suit against five oil companies alleged to be responsible for damage to the metropolis from climate change.

NEW YORK (Legal Newsline) – Unsurprisingly, the Niskanen Center is supporting New York City's lawsuit against five oil companies alleged to be responsible for damage.

The Niskanen Center filed an amicus brief in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York on June 1, arguing the city's case should not be dismissed. A hearing on the defendants' motions to dismiss is scheduled for this week.

The Niskanen Center is representing three Colorado governments, including the City of Boulder, in a similar lawsuit.

New York City's suit, filed in February, alleges BP, Chevron, Conoco-Phillips, ExxonMobil and Royal Dutch Shell are responsible for more than 10 percent of gases that cause global warming.

Niskanen chief counsel David Bookbinder's brief states that "climate change imposes significant damage on both public and private property without the consent of the property owners."

"Niskanen believes that the common law – specifically state common law — provides a remedy for such injuries by requiring wrongdoers to internalize costs they impose on others," the brief states. "Common law nuisance and trespass claims are ultimately grounded in property rights, so much so that they are entitled to constitutional protection."

"Bearing the costs of those injuries is, of course, what any efficient market requires," the brief states. "Otherwise, defendants will continue to reap the benefits of producing fossil fuels, while requiring New York City and its taxpayers to subsidize the costs."

The Niskanen Center is involved in a similar lawsuit on behalf of the city of Boulder. The city and county of Boulder and San Miguel County, Colo., filed suit against Exxon and Suncor, claiming, as in the New York case, that the two companies are to blame for past and future costs associated with climate change.

Fifteen state attorneys general, all Republicans, filed a friend-of-the-court brief in the New York suit, as Legal Newsline previously reported. Their key argument is that litigation should not be used to punish an industry already regulated by the Environmental Protection Agency.

Common law claims aren't appropriate either, the AGs say, thanks to U.S. Supreme Court precedent.

Other climate change lawsuits have been filed in California and Washington state.

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Organizations in this Story

British Petroleum Chevron U.S.A. City of Boulder ConocoPhillips Exxon Mobil Royal Dutch Shell Suncor Energy U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York New York Division

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