Courts see “boomlet” of climate-change-related lawsuits

Climate-change-related lawsuits are the new black. At least 16 cases are pending in federal and state courts in which plaintiffs seek to hold automakers, oil companies, and electric utilities liable for environmental devastation wrought by global warming. “To me, Katrina was a clear result of irresponsible behavior by the carbon-emissions corporate economy,” says F. Gerald Maples, an attorney whose Mississippi home was devastated by the hurricane. He has filed a class-action suit against dozens of entities, from Chevron to Exxon to American Electric Power. Says John Echeverria of Georgetown University’s Environmental Law & Policy Institute, “This boomlet in global warming litigation represents frustration with the White House’s and Congress’ failure to come to grips with the issue.” Boomlet! While results à la the massive payouts by Big Tobacco would be peachy, many plaintiffs wish mainly to increase pressure on businesses and politicians to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions.

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