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Climate Change Movement Goes to Court -- Will Judges Ban Fossil Fuels?

A Commentary By Stephen Moore

   Things aren't going well at all for the global warming crusaders. Despite hundreds of billions of tax dollars spent on green energy over the past decade, the world and America used more fossil fuels than ever before in history last year.

   The electric vehicle movement is stalled out, solar and wind power are both still fringe forms of energy, and the green candidates got crushed in recent elections in Europe because voters are sick of the higher prices associated with green policies. 

 So having struck out with consumers, businesses and at the ballot box, now the greens are moving on to the courts. The climate change industrial complex has now joined forces with trial lawyers to advance their war on fossil fuels.
   One of the more absurd lawsuits happened in Hawaii.

   There, a group of 13 teenagers -- honest, I'm not making this up -- sued Hawaii's government over its use of fossil fuels. Environmental law firms Our Children's Trust and Earthjustice claim that Hawaii's natural resources are imperiled by CO2 emissions. Even if that were true, shouldn't they be suing China?

   The settlement will require the state to eliminate fossil fuels from its transportation system by 2045, and also formally recognizes the right to file future lawsuits against other parties.

   Gov. Josh Green even stood next to the young plaintiffs as he read a statement claiming, "This settlement informs how we as a state can best move forward to achieve life-sustaining goals."

   There's so much that's wrong about this decision. How did a bunch of teenagers possibly have standing to sue? What possible harm have they suffered from fossil fuels?

   The irony is that this island paradise in the Pacific -- whose primary industry is tourism -- is going to collapse without fossil fuels. With no jets and cruise ships allowed, will tourists and business travelers have to arrive by sailboat?

   But this new technique of using lawsuits to advance the anti-fossil fuels movement has spread to other states. Last August, a judge ruled that GOP-dominated Montana violated its constitution when it approved fossil fuel projects without taking climate change into account.

   After recent flooding in Vermont, green activists sued the state for not abolishing fossil fuels.

   Massachusetts is suing Exxon Mobil for adverse weather conditions.

   There are now 32 cases filed by state attorneys general, cities, counties and tribal nations against companies including Exxon Mobil, BP and Shell. The lawsuits claim that the industry tried to undermine scientific consensus about the crisis.

   Here's what's so frightening about these sham lawsuits from trial lawyers who hope to turn oil companies into cash cows similar to the tobacco lawsuits 20 years ago: The end game of lawsuits against states and oil and gas companies for using or producing energy because of alleged damage to the environment could bring about abolition of fossil fuels through the back door of the nation's courthouses.

   But what none of these judges or litigators take into account is the catastrophic economic effects of NOT using fossil fuels. As an example, the Left wants to abolish air conditioning, which requires electricity, which mostly comes from fossil fuels. But air conditioning saves tens of thousands of lives a year. What about the millions of jobs that would be wiped out with no fossil fuels? How many thousands of Americans would die in hospitals, or assisted living centers, or day care centers, or schools if the lights go out with no fossil fuel power plants?

   Fossil fuels have saved millions more lives over the last century than they take. They make Americans much richer and safer and happier and healthier and more mobile. Meanwhile, there is no evidence backing up the absurd claim by teenagers that if Hawaii stopped using fossil fuels, the state's weather conditions would improve.

   Will judges take that into consideration when they try to rob Exxon and coal companies of their profits for the sin of making life on earth much better?

   Stephen Moore is a visiting fellow at the Heritage Foundation and a senior economic advisor to Donald Trump. His latest book is: "Govzilla: How the Relentless Growth of Government Is Devouring Our Economy."


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See Other Commentaries by Stephen Moore.

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