Climate Litigation Campaign is Latest Abuse of Broken Civil Justice System

Pennsylvania’s notorious reputation as one of the country’s worst judicial hellholes has made it a prime target for a nationally coordinated climate litigation campaign targeting productive sectors of the economy.

PCCJR executive director Curt Schroder recently wrote about this issue – and the negative ramifications these types of lawsuits can have on the state’s economy and civil justice climate – in an opinion column published in The Hill

“…activist organizations have for years engaged in a nationwide campaign to pressure elected officials, from county council members to state attorneys general, to file lawsuits aimed at bankrupting American energy companies…this venture into a top natural gas state marks a bold turn for the activists, especially when the facts show the industry has been a driving force behind industrial and power sector greenhouse gas emissions reductions for nearly two decades,” Schroder wrote. He went on to note that while to-date this litigation has been unsuccessful, these campaigns are an attempt to circumvent the legislative process by enacting public policies via the courts.

Recently, Bucks County, located outside of Philadelphia, has decided to jump on the climate litigation bandwagon. The County Commissioners have filed a suit in the Bucks County Court of Common Pleas against BP, ConocoPhillips, Shell, Chevron, Exxon and the American Petroleum Institute in an attempt to seek damages for the effects of climate change. The commissioners have hired outside counsel (DiCello Levitt) to argue their case in court.

Schroder was quoted in several news outlets (including the Delaware Valley Journal and the Pennsylvania Record)  highlighting the hypocrisy of the commissioners’ actions. “Bucks County and its elected county officials have relied on oil and natural gas for decades to meet their transportation needs and to power their once – mighty steel industrial base. Yet the Commissioners have filed climate change litigation for a situation they helped cause…Pennsylvanians already pay a hefty ‘tort tax’ that goes right into the pockets of out-of-state trial lawyers, and this lawsuit will only raise costs even higher for hard-working people across the state.”

As noted in this Broad and Liberty article, environmental activists are pushing for Allegheny County to take similar legal action.

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