John Eldridge Highlights Lessons in Climate Change Litigation

October 22, 2009

Lawsuits Point to Climate Change Litigation Threat
Oil & Gas Journal

A climate change litigation threat appears to be looming for the oil and gas industry in the wake of a US Supreme Court decision allowing the regulation of greenhouse gases as air pollutants.

The recent litigation all stems from an Apr. 2, 2007, decision in which the Supreme Court ruled that the Environmental Protection Agency has authority under the Clean Air Act to regulate greenhouse gases.

John R. Eldridge, an attorney with Haynes and Boone LLP in Houston, notes the lesson for the oil and gas industry is that it cannot expect immediate dismissal of claims associated with damages allegedly caused by GHG emissions.

“This is not saying that a state or tribe or city or individual pursuing one of these claims to abate the nuisance will get an order enjoining an oil company or refinery from emitting carbon dioxide,” Eldridge said. “We still don’t know how these cases will ultimately turn out.”

Meanwhile, he advises oil companies to be prepared in case they get targeted in a tort claim involving climate change.

“Companies need to figure out what their position should be about legislation based on the fact that they may be defending these kinds of cases if there is not a fix or a resolution by the US Supreme Court or by Congress,” Eldridge said.

“I think this is going to be a wake up call for the industry,” he said, referring specifically to the Kivalina case. “I think most people had some sense that these claims were so far out that they would be dismissed upfront as political or for lack of standing.”

This article excerpted from Oil & Gas Journal.  For full text, click here.

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