Tuesday, June 26, 2007

The Cost Of Controlling Global Warming? You Ain't Seen Nothin' Yet

If you want to feel a real chill, read the following article and consider hundreds and hundreds of lawyers around the country filing lawsuits against companies that emit carbon dioxide, (which of course we all know causes global warming). Then of course these polluting companies will need lawyers to defend themselves. All of this is going to cost a lot of money. Guess who is ultimately going to pay?

Then of course there will be the buying and selling of "carbon credits". Anyone emitting the pollutant carbon dioxide will have to pay for that "right". They estimate this market could be as much as $100 BILLION per year!!! There will be buyers and sellers, and the inevitable "middle man", or broker. And you think your electric bill is high now? Just wait.

Guess what all of that leads to? A cleaner environment you say? More stable and predictable weather maybe? Don't hold your breath. It all leads to higher costs to the consumer, not just for the energy you use, but everything you eat, wear, or use to provide shelter. The economic forecast looks grim. Blame it all on carbon dioxide and global warming.

from: http://www.dallasnews.com/sharedcontent/dws/bus/stories/DN-greenlawyers_25bus.ART.State.Edition2.4358ea8.html

Don't like the heat? Try suing
Lawyers anticipate a rising sea of work tied to climate change
12:00 AM CDT on Monday, June 25, 2007
By ERIC TORBENSON / The Dallas Morning News etorbenson@dallasnews.com

Think this global-warming controversy will blow over soon? The lawyers don't.
Top Dallas firm Thompson & Knight started a dedicated climate-change practice June 4 with 26 lawyers. Today, Dallas' Vinson & Elkins will unveil its 41-lawyer group, headed by a former senior counsel for the World Bank.

The law firms – and a dozen others nationwide – are getting ready for a predicted explosion of climate-related work tied to government regulation, lawsuits against energy companies and new markets that will trade the rights to emit carbon.

"We're not here to act as climatologists," said Thompson & Knight's climate chief, Scott Deatherage, though he has a degree in marine biology and knows plenty of the science behind global warming. "We're here to steer our clients through what is likely to be new regulation, and that's going to have risks and opportunities."

One potential opportunity is the $30 billion global market for rights to put carbon into the air; if the U.S. comes on board, the market could grow by $100 billion, and the credits are likely to become investments that draw Wall Street attention.
Vinson & Elkins' Christopher Carr, who helped the World Bank oversee its carbon finance unit, predicts a nationwide "cap" on carbon emissions in just a few years.

"It's not a question of if; it's when, and most importantly, how it will be set up," Mr. Carr said.
By their geography, the Dallas firms have a number of energy companies as clients. But they also expect to represent plaintiffs who've been harmed by global warming and pollution.

Potential suit in Canada
Steve Susman of Susman Godfrey in Houston has been a pioneer in such litigation. He led the charge this year to force TXU Energy into building fewer coal-fired plants in Texas than it had planned.
Now he's among several lawyers talking with a group of Inuits in northern Canada who have seen an entire island sink under rising seas from global warming. The tribe is weighing its options, including suing carbon-emitting corporations such as power companies for heating the planet, he said.

"Melting glaciers isn't going to get that much going, but wait until the first big ski area closes because it has no snow," said Mr. Susman, who teaches a climate-change litigation course at the University of Houston Law School. "Or wait until portions of lower Manhattan and San Francisco are under water."

Some lawyers are trying to tie the damage from Hurricane Katrina to global warming – and the energy companies who may have contributed to that warming.
Mr. Susman predicts large insurance companies, which have paid out billions of dollars in claims in the past two decades because of powerful hurricanes, eventually will become plaintiffs in broad greenhouse-effect litigation against energy companies.

It might seem difficult to convince judges and juries that losses from intense storms or rising sea levels came from carbon-dioxide emissions from power plants. Even if American power plants caused the warming, what of China and India and other industrial countries' roles in the process?

But lawyers are testing those waters.
"You're going to see some really serious exposure on the part of companies that are emitting CO{-2}," Mr. Susman predicted. "I can't say for sure it's going to be as big as the tobacco settlements, but then again it may even be bigger. We're not going to know until the regulatory environment becomes clearer."

Ahead of the game
Attorneys such as Mr. Carr and Mr. Deatherage see big changes coming from Washington, and many of their Texas-based energy clients want to be ahead of the game when rules are made.
"I think we'll have a climate-change statute post-2008," Mr. Deatherage said. Energy companies are jockeying now to make sure investments in clean-air technologies qualify for tax or carbon credits down the road.

Public-nuisance laws that are being cited in suits related to environmental hazards such as lead paint could come into play with global warming and energy companies.
Whether states and municipalities can really extract potential damages for the "nuisance" of global warming isn't clear. California has sued automakers over global warming; the automakers, in turn, have sued the state over clean-air rules.

The Bush administration's recognition of climate change along with overall Democratic momentum in Congress has pushed both energy-related companies and their law firms into action.
The regulatory side, not the litigation side, is where the bulk of the legal work will come from, said Mr. Carr, who hopes to bring his experience with carbon-credit trading to bear with Vinson & Elkins' numerous energy clients.
"While there may be some litigation in the shorter term, the transactional area is going to be a significant source of long-term legal work," he said. "To me, it's personally important that we get the business legislation right."

Public opinion
Others also downplay the idea of big money from climate-change lawsuits. Going after Big Tobacco had plenty of public support, but going after Big Energy could be a different story.
"While it made a nice little story to gang up on tobacco companies who are killing us with a poison product, it won't be so fun to gang up on energy companies when they're in fact keeping the lights on and getting you to work on time," said Darren McKinney of the American Tort Reform Association in Washington, D.C., which works to reduce frivolous lawsuits. "We're not going to get public support for litigation that drives energy costs through the roof."

But as they succeeded in extracting concessions from tobacco companies, Mr. Susman predicts lawyers will be effective players – more so than, say, diplomats – in helping solve the problem of global warming.
And, he said, the law firms girding today for the coming environmental war are making a good business decision, Mr. Susman said.
"I think these guys are smart, because there's going to be a lot of litigation in this area and they want to get ahead of it," he said.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

The moment lawers get involved this does not help the enviroment.

How does the senseless killing of zillions of trees to file lawsuits help anyone except the lawyers.

A better use of the money would be to invest it improving cars and homes around the country.

If people's money and business capital is sucked out by vampires and leachs how can they afford to invest in saving energy.

Aaron Baranoff (baranoff.typepad.com/cheaper_electric/)