CHILDREN’S LEGAL CRUSADE – One day, children will be suing government for making them dumber, but for now this:
Litigation may be as American as apple pie, but some lawsuits are so destructive that they stand out even among the hugely expensive wreckage wrought by our legal system. The most prominent current example is the “children’s” climate lawsuit (Juliana v U.S.): A group of kids, including “future generations, through their guardian Dr. James Hansen,” claim that the government’s actions and failures to act have caused climate change, thus violating the youngest generation’s constitutional rights to life, liberty and property, and have failed to protect essential public trust resources.
I leave the numerous legal issues to the lawyers, although precisely how the ineffable Hansen came to be the “guardian” for future generations is a question both fascinating and amusing. Instead, it is crucial to recognize first that the fundamental policy assumption underlying this lawsuit — we can make “the children” better off by making them poorer — is preposterous.
Where are the parents? Where are the responsible adults – i.e. someone who is not Dr James Hanson?
Mayor Bill de Blasio announced yesterday that New York City is filing a lawsuit against Big Oil, seeking unspecified damages that will likely total in the tens of billions of dollars. The immediate cause for the suit, filed against BP, Chevron, ConocoPhillips, ExxonMobil, and Shell, is the damage and expenses associated with climate change— caused by the oil companies, on this view. In particular, the city wants to recoup the costs of rebuilding from Superstorm Sandy and the $20 billion that it plans to spend on storm resiliency. The fossil-fuel energy industry, the city’s lawsuit claims, “deliberately engaged in a campaign of deception and denial about global warming and its impacts, even while profiting from the sale of fossil fuels.”
Asked about the litigation strategy, de Blasio dismissed the suggestion that it might be hard to prove that the defendants caused the hurricane. “I think we are going to win the argument that climate change exists; I feel really confident about that one,” he chuckled. “And I think it’s pretty clear these five companies had something to do with it.” New York City corporation counsel Zachary Carter described the case as a straightforward tort action, based on damages from Sandy. “The theory of this lawsuit,” explained Carter, “is it exploits our nuisance laws, and that both in terms of public and private nuisance we believe that’s a cause of action that . . . gives us certain strategic advantages in litigation.” The $200 billion, multi-state tobacco industry settlement, reached in 1998, is the model for the city’s litigation, said the mayor. “The tobacco analogy is important,” he observed, explaining that a cultural change occurred after Big Tobacco admitted to having buried evidence that cigarette use is unhealthy. “We no longer assume that the fossil fuel companies are innocent; in fact, if we identify them as guilty, it changes the reality . . . and that can spread like wildfire.”
“Big Oil” has not been doing anything illegal, of course, merely extracting and selling a legal product that powers the modern industrial civilisation, including De Blasio’s putrid socialist city administration. So De Blasio has to “exploit our nuisance laws”, the key word being “exploit”, meaning in this context “stretch to the breaking point” or “abuse”, in order to carry out a political stunt. If the Lord Mayor wants to make a real statement about fossil fuels, he should have the courage to ban them outright within the city of New York.