Two Circuits allow global warming lawsuits against power companies

A federal court in California refused to allow the Native Village of Kivalina to sue 24 energy and utility companies for causing global warming and causing environmental changes that may well require the entire village to relocate. The court held, in Native Village of Kivalina v. Exxon Mobil Corp., 2009 WL 3326113 (N.D. Cal. 2009), that the question was nonjusticiable because it was impossible to prove causation.

However, both the Second and Fifth Circuits have recently allowed cases to proceed which claim that defendants contributed to global warming and thus caused a public nuisance and/or violated the plaintiffs' property rights protected by a variety of doctrines, including trespass, negligence, and private nuisance. See Comer v. Murphy Oil USA, 2009 WL 3321493 (5th Cir. 2009); Connecticut v. American Electric Power Co., Inc., 582 F.3d 309 (2nd Cir. 2009).