Federal court orders first hearing on the science of climate change

March 8, 2018 by  
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Lawyers will present climate change science in what could be the first-ever court hearing in the United States on the topic, McClatchy Washington Bureau reported . Lawyers for BP , Exxon , Chevron , and other oil companies will go up against lawyers for the California cities of Oakland and San Francisco after United States District Judge William Alsup ordered “a two-part tutorial on the subject of global warming and climate change .” Sabin Center for Climate Change Law executive director Michael Burger told McClatchy, “This will be the closest that we have seen to a trial on climate science in the United States, to date.” San Francisco and Oakland filed lawsuits against BP, Exxon, Chevron, ConocoPhillips, and Royal Dutch Shell “alleging that the Big Oil giants are responsible for the cities’ costs of protecting themselves from a global warming-induced sea level rise , including expenses to construct seawalls to protect the two cities’ more than five million residents,” according to Hagens Berman , the firm representing the California cities. In late February, Alsup ordered the tutorial, which is to take place on March 21. Related: This lawyer wants Big Oil to pay for climate change Experts on both sides said they hadn’t heard of a call like this before. Physicist Steven Koonin, who served as an Energy Department Under Secretary for Science under Barack Obama and also penned a piece for the Wall Street Journal titled “ Climate Science Is Not Settled ,” told McClatchy, “I don’t know of any judge who has asked for a tutorial like this. I think it is a great idea. Anybody having to make a decision about climate science needs to understand the full spectrum of what we know and what we don’t know.” The first part of the tutorial will cover “the history of the scientific study of climate change;” each side will have an hour to delve into “scientific inquiry into the formation and melting of the ice ages , periods of historical cooling and warming, smog , ozone , nuclear winter, volcanoes , and global warming.” The second part, for which each side again has one hour, will cover “the best science now available” regarding global warming, sea rise, coastal flooding, and glacier melt. + United States District Court for the Northern District of California Via McClatchy Washington Bureau Images via Jeff Head on Flickr and Wikimedia Commons

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Federal court orders first hearing on the science of climate change

This lawyer wants Big Oil to pay for climate change

December 26, 2017 by  
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Steve Berman is perhaps best known for winning a $206 billion settlement from tobacco companies in the 1990s, although he’s also taken on big companies like Enron and Volkswagen. Now he’s setting his sights on fossil fuel companies. Vice spoke to Berman about a lawsuit demanding five of the most powerful oil companies in the world pay for causing climate change . Berman, the managing partner of Hagens Berman , is one of the attorneys representing San Francisco and Oakland in two lawsuits filed against BP, Chevron, Exxon, Royal Dutch Shell, and ConocoPhillips “alleging that the Big Oil giants are responsible for the cities’ costs of protecting themselves from global warming-induced sea level rise , including expenses to construct seawalls to protect the two cities’ more than five million residents,” according to Hagens Berman. Related: UNEP chief: Polluters should pay for environmental destruction, not taxpayers The case suggests Big Oil borrowed moves from Big Tobacco, which researched cancer even as tobacco companies denied cigarettes were harmful. Berman has evidence that Exxon , for example, knew burning oil leads to global warming in the 1950’s – and oil companies worked to protect Arctic pipelines and offshore oil rigs from the impacts of climate change even as they denied the science. Vice pointed out no one has yet won a similar lawsuit. A Chevron spokesperson told Vice, “Should this litigation proceed, it will only serve special interests at the expense of broader policy, regulatory, and economic priorities.” Berman failed to win a lawsuit like this one in 2012, when he attempted to hold fossil fuel companies including Exxon responsible for the sea level rise threatening Kivalina, Alaska. A federal court dismissed the case; United States District Judge Saundra Brown Armstrong wrote, “There is no realistic possibility of tracing any particular alleged effect of global warming to any particular emissions by any specific person, entity, group at any particular point in time.” Leaps in climate science since then could help Berman in this new lawsuit. Researchers have calculated nearly two-thirds of greenhouse gases emitted during the past 150 years can be connected back to 90 companies; BP, Chevron, Exxon, ConocoPhillips, and Shell are in the top ten, according to Vice. Berman told the publication, “We have better science . We think causation will be easier to prove.” Via Vice and Hagens Berman Images via Depositphotos ( 1 , 2 )

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This lawyer wants Big Oil to pay for climate change

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