Sep 28 2012

Twitter Link Round-Up: Decision in Kivalina v. Exxon and House Passes “Stop the War on Coal Act”

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Photo by Kelci Block

Afraid you missed something interesting in the world of environmental law?  Read on for a (non-comprehensive) list of articles posted on our Twitter feed @WMELSBlog.

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Sep 21 2011

You’re On Your Own: Virginia Court Rules that Insurance Company has No Duty to Defend in Climate Change Claim

Aerial view of Kivalina, Alaska, USA, via wikimedia

 

Since the Supreme Court struck down the states’ climate change related nuisance claims in AEP v. Connecticut, all eyes have been on a similar case in the 9th Circuit: Kivalina v. Exxon Mobil Corp. et. al.  There, an Eskimo community in Alaska has sued some of the biggest greenhouse gas emitters under nuisance law.  The community claim that greenhouse gas emissions are responsible for the destruction of their home, Kivalina, Alaska, a town situated on a barrier reef off the coast of Alaska that has been slowly swallowed by rising sea levels due to climate change.

While that main case has stalled while the 9th Circuit considers it in light of the new Supreme Court ruling, the Virginia Supreme Court has given the final ruling in a related case.  One of the defendants in Kivalina, AES, sued their insurance company, Steadfast, claiming that the insurance company had a duty to defend AES under their policy, which covered claims for damage to people or property by “occurrence or accident.”  Since Steadfast is a Virginian company, the case was heard in Virginia.  The Virginia Supreme Court focused on the “accident” language and ruled that since Kivalina was claiming that AES intentionally emitted greenhouse gases, knowing the harm they would cause by contributing to climate change, that did not count as an accident under Virginia law.  Though the ruling only applies to Virginia and is on a rather narrow issue, it is still interesting to see the variety of cases in which climate change can play a factor.

Full Opinion (pdf) Continue Reading »

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Aug 22 2011

Playing Catch Up: Major Environmental Stories from this Summer

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Paul Souders/Stone/Getty Images via HowStuffWorks

If you’ve been watching the blog over the summer, you’ve noticed that we’ve been on a break and just posting our Twitter Round-Ups on Fridays.  Well, now that school has started again, we’re going to resume our regular posting schedule with three posts a week.  This first post is going to highlight the biggest environmental stories that happened over the summer and might have been buried in the list of Twitter posts.

 Supreme Court Decides Climate Change Nuisance Case

SCOTUS Blog: “Opinion Analysis: AEP v. Connecticut” 

Carefully noting that it was not deciding that global warming is a problem, the Supreme Court ruled Monday that Congress thinks it is, but has assigned the role of dealing with it first to the Environmental Protection Agency, with courts playing only a limited secondary role.  The decision, unanimous only in part, blocked state governments and others from going to federal court to file a claim of “public nuisance” in order to get judicial limits imposed on electric power plants’ release of “greenhouse gases” that may warm up the earth.

Grist: “Connecticut v. AEP: Public nuisance ruling may boost chances of EPA CO2 regulations”

The Second Circuit’s recent decision in Connecticut v. AEP, in which a coalition of state attorneys general sued electric power producers to cap and then reduce their carbon emissions, allows the public nuisance case to proceed and gave the environmental plaintiffs virtually everything they wanted. It should also give pause to those of us tempted to see judges as purely political: it was decided by Judges Peter W. Hall, a George W. Bush appointee from Vermont, and Joseph McLaughlin, a George H.W. Bush appointee from New York. Damn liberals. (The third panel member, one Sonia Sotomayor, is now busy with other things and did not sign the decision.). Continue Reading »

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Feb 18 2011

Twitter Link Round-Up: Chevron Fined for Amazon Pollution and Royalties for Gold and Silver

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Ophrys apifera, flower Picture taken by BerndH, via wikimedia

Afraid you missed something interesting in the world of environmental law?  Read on for a list of articles posted on our Twitter feed @WMELSBlog.

– NYT: @nytimes BP responds to criticism of oil spill settlements by saying if anything, they are too generous http://nyti.ms/hkM54B

– BBC: @BBCNews The sale of publicly owned forests in the UK has been stopped, with an apology from the environment sec. http://bbc.in/eI6VfM

– WWF: @WWF WWF and @Guardian series on business transitioning to sustainable practices http://su.pr/1rhmTR (RT)

– NYT: @nytimes Russia is jumping into the offshore Arctic drilling business and US companies are following http://nyti.ms/gGgzBJ

– NYT: @nytimesgreen The UN warns that food shortages caused by climate change are driving instability in many regions http://bit.ly/fXfd8r #

– Interior Dept: @Interior Sec. Salazar announces $749 million for state fish & wildlife projects: http://bit.ly/gJSYF5 (RT) Continue Reading »

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