Progressives are having a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad week in the once friendly American court system.

This April, I noted that U.S. District Judge William Alsup of the Northern District of California is overseeing the lawsuits that the cities of Oakland and San Francisco filed last fall against six fossil fuel giants. The two cities are seeking to hold the oil companies liable for the cost of infrastructure upgrades and remediation expected as they deal with effects of rising sea levels.
The innovative judge began his review of the case by allowing both sides to give a climate change tutorial. This week, he tossed out the case against Big Oil entirely.

The decision is a stinging defeat for the plaintiffs, San Francisco and Oakland, and raises warning flags for other local governments around the United States that have filed similar suits, including New York City.

The judge, William Alsup of Federal District Court in San Francisco, acknowledged the science of global warming and the great risks to the planet, as did the oil and gas companies being sued. But in his ruling, Judge Alsup said the courts were not the proper place to deal with such global issues, and he rejected the legal theory put forth by the cities.

“The problem deserves a solution on a more vast scale than can be supplied by a district judge or jury in a public nuisance case,” Judge Alsup wrote in a 16-page opinion.

While many well-informed science professionals disagree that man contributes significantly to climate change, the lawyers for the petroleum companies (including BP, Chevron, ConocoPhillips, Exxon Mobil and Royal Dutch Shell) decided to focus on the limited effect on climate correction that giving these two cities gobs of money would produce. Additionally, Alsup seemed keen on noting that significant shifts in global climate occurred before mankind began producing gasoline, a point made in Big Oil’s tutorial and one I have often featured at Legal Insurrection.

Perhaps the most heartwarming aspect of Alsup’s ruling was the reference to the contributions that fossil fuels have made to our quality of life.

“Our industrial revolution and the development of our modern world has literally been fueled by oil and coal,” he wrote. “Without those fuels, virtually all of our monumental progress would have been impossible.”

In light of that, he asked: “Would it really be fair to now ignore our own responsibility in the use of fossil fuels and place the blame for global warming on those who supplied what we demanded? Is it really fair, in light of those benefits, to say that the sale of fossil fuels was unreasonable?”

Intriguingly, like Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas asserted in the recent travel order ruling, Alsup noted that the court was limited in scale in its ability to implement policies. While the travel ban ruling supported the President, the US District Judge recommended that the solutions to “climate change” were better supplied by the legislative and executive branches.

Alsup, noting that Congress and the White House, not the judiciary, are responsible for addressing the fallout from fossil fuels, granted the industry’s request to dismiss the suits.

“The problem deserves a solution on a more vast scale than can be supplied by a district judge or jury in a public nuisance case,” he wrote.

I sure hope Alsup doesn’t get the kind of harassment and abuse that has been directed at President Trump, Trump’s family, or administrative officials as a result of this surprisingly rational decision.


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