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  • Curt Levey

National Law Journal Op-ed: Climate Lawsuits Driven by Private Donors

Op-ed in the National Law Journal by Committee for Justice president Curt Levey:

Oral arguments took place on June 21 in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit addressing the climate lawsuits brought by Hoboken and Delaware. The hearing likely didn’t raise many eyebrows, but it should have. These lawsuits are part of a carefully orchestrated nationwide effort funded by pay-for-play dark money donors and activists, not the citizens they purport to serve.

A new American Tort Reform Foundation report reveals how private, outside forces are coordinating with state attorneys general and local municipalities in a nationwide litigation campaign of more than two dozen lawsuits against U.S. energy companies. Lawsuits, of course, are often about money. However, this new information suggests that climate lawsuits such as the ones filed by Hoboken and Delaware are not being steered by public officials at all, but, rather, by private individuals and organizations with deep pockets.

How are these forces steering our elected officials toward climate lawsuits? The ATRF report shows that private groups are embedding special assistant attorneys general into state attorney general’s offices, where they play the day-to-day role of litigating climate lawsuits. The salaries of these SAAGs are covered by grants to the New York University School of Law State Energy and Environmental Impact Center. The ultimate source of this money? A $5.6 million grant from Bloomberg Philanthropies, a program founded in 2017 by former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg.

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