US judge dismisses NY climate lawsuit against oil titans
A US judge on Thursday dismissed a federal lawsuit filed by New York that had sought damages from five multinational oil corporations for contributing to climate change.
City authorities filed the suit against BP, Chevron, ConocoPhillips, ExxonMobil and Royal Dutch Shell, hoping to help compensate a $20 billion plan to protect the city, economy and public services from the effects of global warming.
"It's up to the fossil fuel companies whose greed put us in this position to shoulder the cost of making New York safer and more resilient," left-leaning Democratic Mayor Bill de Blasio had told reporters back in January.
But US District Judge John Keenan did not agree.
Such an "immense and complicated problem" as climate change is best left to the executive and legislative branches of the US government, he ruled after the oil corporations moved to dismiss the complaint.
"The serious problems caused thereby are not for the judiciary to ameliorate," he wrote in a 23-page decision.
Keenan called for a "comprehensive solution" that "weighs the global benefits of fossil fuel use with the gravity of the impending harms.
"To litigate such an action for injuries from foreign greenhouse gas emissions in federal court would severely infringe upon the foreign-policy decisions that are squarely within the purview of the political branches of the US government."
Keenan essentially sided with the oil corporations.
In response to the lawsuit, Chevron, ExxonMobil and Shell had issued public statements calling the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions a global issue that required more sweeping action than lawsuits.
Climate change leapt to the fore of New York politics after Hurricane Sandy paralyzed the US financial capital in 2012, causing major flooding across coastal New York and New Jersey, and an estimated $71 billion in damage.
One study published by researchers last year warned that rising sea levels from man-made climate change could prompt catastrophic flooding in New York as frequently as once every five years by 2030 to 2045.