Jump to Navigation
Jump to Content

Native Village of Kivalina v. ExxonMobil Corp.

ELR Citation: 42 ELR 20195
Nos. 09-17490, (9th Cir., 09/21/2012)

The Ninth Circuit affirmed a lower court decision dismissing an Eskimo village's nuisance claim against multiple oil, energy, and utility companies for their alleged contribution to climate change. The village claimed that the companies are responsible for a substantial portion of the greenhouse gas emissions that are contributing to climate change. As a result, the Arctic sea ice that protects the village's coast from winter storms has diminished, and the resulting erosion will require the village's residents to relocate. The village also charged the companies with acting in concert to create, contribute to, and maintain global warming and with conspiring to mislead the public about the science of global warming. But in American Electric Power Co., Inc. v. Connecticut, 131 S. Ct. 2527, 41 ELR 21202 (2011), the U.S. Supreme Court determined that Congress, via the CAA, has directly addressed the issue of domestic greenhouse gas emissions from stationary sources. Accordingly, the CAA and the EPA action that the Act authorizes displace the village's claims. The fact that the damage occurred before EPA acted to establish greenhouse gas standards does not alter the analysis, nor does the fact that the village seeks money damages instead of injunctive relief. The doctrine of displacement is an issue of separation of powers between the judicial and legislative branches, not the judicial and executive branches.