Federal Judge Tosses Climate Change Lawsuit

NEW YORK (AP) — New York City’s effort to hold oil companies responsible for global warming was rejected by a judge Thursday who said placing blame for the issue is not the judiciary’s responsibility.

U.S. District Judge John F. Keenan said global warming is a problem best left to the other two branches of government.

“The immense and complicated problem of global warming requires a comprehensive solution that weighs the global benefits of fossil fuel use with the gravity of the impending harms,” Keenan wrote in his decision.

Keenan said the lawsuit implicates countless foreign governments and their laws and policies.

“To litigate such an action for injuries from foreign greenhouse gas emissions in federal court would severely infringe upon the foreign-policy decisions that are squarely within the purview of the political branches of the U.S. government,” he said.

The city earlier this year sued five of the world’s biggest oil companies, blaming them for global warming. It sought unspecified damages from BP, Chevron, ConocoPhillips, Exxon Mobil and Royal Dutch Shell.

The decision echoed the findings last month of a federal judge in San Francisco who rejected a similar lawsuit on the same grounds after city officials in San Francisco and Oakland had sued the same oil companies.

The city said it would appeal. Seth Stein, a spokesman for Mayor Bill de Blasio, said the Democratic mayor “believes big polluters must be held accountable for their contributions to climate change and the damage it will cause New York City.”

Theodore Boutrous, who argued on behalf of the oil companies at a recent hearing before Keenan, said the judge “got it exactly right.”

“Trying to resolve a complex, global policy issue like climate change through litigation is ‘illogical,’ and would intrude on the powers of Congress and the Executive Branch to address these issues as part of the democratic process,” he said in a statement. “The court relied on bedrock Supreme Court precedent to reject these baseless claims.”

Ken Kimmell, president of the Union of Concerned Scientists, said in a release that the lawsuit was not focused on solving global warming but instead was meant to compensate the city for tens of billions of dollars it has caused and will cause in the future.