By Elisabeth Lorio Baer
Kivalina, Alaska, an Inupiat Eskimo village of 400 inhabitants perched on a barrier island north of the Arctic Circle, is bringing suit against two dozen fuel and utility companies, including ExxonMobil and Shell Oil, accusing them of helping to cause the climate change that it alleges is accelerating the island’s erosion. The village wants the companies to pay the costs of relocating to the mainland, which could amount to as much as $400 million.
The case is one of three major climate change lawsuits. In the other two cases, a Connecticut and a Mississippi case, the federal appeals courts reversed the district courts’ dismissal of the actions. With actions in three circuit courts, Supreme Court review may be on the horizon. President Obama’s senior advisor for energy and climate change, Carol M. Browner, however, urges that setting environmental standards is best left to the legislature.
Kivalina alleges in its Complaint that the industry conspired “to suppress the awareness of the link” between emissions and climate change through “front groups, fake citizen organizations and bogus scientific bodies.” These claims echo those alleged in the tobacco cases and could result in settlement negotiations, increased government regulation, and the eventual large recovery for plaintiffs.
For the full article, see http://www.nytimes.com/2010/01/27/business/energy-environment/27lawsuits.html?th&emc=th