It looks like even the whackily liberal Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals is turning skeptic.
According to the Clean Energy Report:
A three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit appears skeptical over environmentalists’ claims that an Alaskan village has the right under common law to collect monetary damages from oil companies because the industry’s greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions are making the village uninhabitable.
The case, Native Village of Kivalina, et al. v. ExxonMobil Corp., et al., is seen as an important test of environmentalists’ continuing efforts to use tort law over claims of adverse impacts from GHG emissions.
The Supreme Court ruled June 20 in American Electric Power [AEP], et al. v. Connecticut, et al. that held the Clean Air Act displaces states’ efforts to have a court force utilities to reduce their GHGs, because EPA has authority under the statute to regulate GHGs, granted by an earlier high court ruling.
However, because AEP focused on injunctive relief — trying to impose GHG reductions at facilities to prevent future harm — the ruling did not resolve the question of whether tort law claims can be made for financial damages from alleged adverse past and ongoing impacts due to GHG emissions.
But the 9th Circuit judges appeared to cast doubt on that approach in this case, where the judges are reviewing a lower court ruling rejecting the claims on procedural grounds.
During Nov. 28 oral arguments in the case, all three judges questioned plaintiff’s attorney Matt Pawa’s assertions that it is “black-letter law” that the global warming claims fit into common law torts seeking damages for unreasonable behavior, according to a recording of the arguments from the San Francisco courtroom.
For example, Judge Sidney R. Thomas said that argument appeared “extreme,” noting any polluter can contribute to global warming and cause effects. “When I drive my car,” should I join the defendants, he asked. [Emphasis added]