BATON ROUGE — The executive director of Louisiana Lawsuit Abuse Watch said the decision this week by a federal judge in California to throw out climate change lawsuits against big oil companies was not a surprise.
"This is further proof that Americans are being sold a dangerous bill of goods by those who promise that lawsuits provide a viable solution to addressing coastal erosion, rising sea levels and other challenges associated with global climate change," Melissa Landry said this week in an interview with The Louisiana Record. "It is no surprise that these suits were thrown out of court."
In a ruling handed down June 25, U.S. District Judge William Alsup of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California tossed out suits filed by San Francisco and Oakland against Chevron, ExxonMobil, ConocoPhillips, BP and Royal Dutch Shell that alleged that the oil companies affected climate change and should pay for infrastructure to protect the environment.
In the ruling, Alsup said that Congress was better suited to address climate change.
Landry said the litigation was misguided.
"Similar to the Louisiana coastal erosion lawsuits that are being championed by Gov. John Bel Edwards and his trial lawyer cronies, the California climate change litigation is a misguided attempt to stretch the law far beyond its intentions and involve private lawyers in major public policy decisions that should be determined by democratically elected lawmakers," Landry said.
Landry said the legal system is not the correct forum for crafting public policy and the courts were never intended to bypass the legislative process in pursuit of anyone's personal agenda.
"Twelve citizens on a jury should never stand in for 535 elected members of Congress or our 50 state legislatures," she said. "We all recognize the need to protect our families, businesses and communities from hurricanes, floods and climate change challenges. Whether you live in Louisiana, California, or anywhere in between, we are all impacted in one way or another by our rapidly changing environment. But the solutions we seek will not be found in the courtroom."
Landry said good policies that encourage collaboration and cooperation are key to addressing the environmental challenges faced in Louisiana and worldwide.