Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Climate change bill could escalate lawsuits

Oil and gas companies face the potential of more environmental lawsuits being filed against them depending upon the fate of the US House of Representatives climate change bill, HR 2454.

House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Henry A. Waxman, (D-Calif.) and Rep. Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.) wrote the lengthy bill. An early draft version would have given citizens broader standing than ever to sue the government and air polluters.

The draft said that essentially anyone who “reasonably expects to suffer” a harm attributable to government inaction could have filed a citizen suit. It defined harm as any consequence of air pollution, including climate change.

Attorneys with Mayer Brown LLP report the far-reaching citizen suit provision was dropped out of the bill before it was introduced. But HR 2454 still contains a citizen suit provision consistent with the Clean Air Act (CAA).

John S. Hahn, a Mayer Brown partner in Washington, believes the potential exists for energy companies to face more environmental lawsuits as a result of climate change legislation. But he questions how fast that legislation might get implemented.

“The environmentalists want everybody to believe it will happen this year,” Hahn said of congressional passage of a comprehensive climate change law. “It may not happen this year.”

The CAA already is complicated, and the Waxman-Markey bill runs over 900 pages. The Waxman-Markey bill opens the CAA to modifications. This process could produce a vague US greenhouse gas regulation program that generates yet more questions than answers.

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March 28, 2017 at 11:15 PM  

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