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US Climate Change Litigation Set to Triple in 2010

Without federal legislation regulating greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, litigation is on the rise in the U.S. with the number of climate change lawsuit filings doubling between 2006 and 2007, and set to triple 2009 levels this year, according to a report from DB Climate Change Advisors (DBCCA).

The report, “Growth of US Climate Change Litigation: Trends & Consequences” (PDF), finds that the largest increase in litigation has been challenges to federal action, specifically industry challenges to proposed EPA efforts to regulate greenhouse gas emissions, according to researchers.

From 2001 to date, 24 percent of total climate change-related cases were filed by environmental groups aiming to prevent or restrict the permitting of coal-fired power plants, with about 37 states joining, or stating their intent to join, either side of the litigation.

DBCCA expects the number of climate change related court cases to continue growing for the foreseeable future.

Industry groups are specifically targeting three Obama-era U.S. Environmental Protection Agency regulations: the December 2009 finding that greenhouses cases endanger human health and welfare, fuel efficiency standards for cars and light trucks in April, and rules released in May to curb emissions by factories and power plants, reports The New York Times.

The report also notes that the Chamber of Commerce, the National Association of Manufacturers, the American Iron and Steel Institute and the American Chemistry Council, and others had filed multiple lawsuits in the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia, according to the article.

In August, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce filed a lawsuit that challenges EPA’s 2009 endangerment finding, which is the foundation for the agency’s ruling on limiting emissions from power plants, factories and other heavy emitters.

In February, several industry groups, conservative think tanks, lawmakers and three states filed 16 court challenges against EPA’s endangerment finding.

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