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Tuesday, May 14, 2019
Hawaii to Sue over Global Warming? UH Law School Debunked
By News Release @ 4:52 PM :: 7846 Views :: Energy, Environment, Higher Education

One-Sided University of Hawaii Event to Promote Discredited Climate Lawsuits

News Release from Manufacturers’ Accountability Project, May 3, 2019

Just one week after the University of Colorado School of Law hosted a forum for advocates of Colorado’s baseless climate litigation, the University of Hawaii is following suit. Today, the University’s William S. Richardson School of Law is hosting an event to highlight the potential for climate litigation in Hawaii. Unfortunately, just like last week’s event in Colorado, the University of Hawaii’s event is set to be another biased, one-sided conversation that will deprive attendees and students from hearing both sides of this complex and contentious issue.

Although no municipality in Hawaii has moved forward with a climate lawsuit thus far, today’s panel will include activists and attorneys that are either directly suing energy manufacturers or explicitly supportive of these lawsuits. Most notable is Vic Sher of Sher Edling, the law firm representing the plaintiffs in several of the climate lawsuits that have been filed against manufacturers.

Joining Sher are Ann Carlson of the University of California Los Angeles’s Emmett Institute on Climate Change and the Environment, who is consulting for Sher on his litigation, and Alyssa Johl, a longtime anti-manufacturing activist and board member of Climate Liability News, a website created to promote these lawsuits.

Notably, Johl’s Center for Climate Integrity is the organization behind the Colorado event last week and today’s event in Hawaii. The organization is a recently-formed nonprofit that aims to “educate” policymakers and the public about the costs of climate change and “supports efforts to make climate polluters pay their fair share.”

Also featured on Friday’s panel is Marti Townsend, who has led the Sierra Club in Hawaii since June 2015. Under her leadership, the Sierra Club of Hawaii has aggressively targeted energy manufacturers. Two years ago, under Townsend’s direction, the Sierra Club of Hawaii won a lawsuit where the Supreme Court of Hawaii ruled there was a state constitutional right to a clean and healthful environment. The case granted citizens the right to bring cases before the state’s public utilities commission – cases that are almost always skewed against conventional power generation.

Already, Hawaiians pay some of the highest utility bills in the country, something that hurts both citizens and manufacturers. Lawsuits like the Sierra Club’s only make the situation worse. But students at the University of Hawaii Law School are unlikely to hear about how aggressive climate litigation hurts the state’s economy since there the panel lacks any representative that could credibly speak for energy manufacturers.

In this respect, the event seems to be the continuation of a troubling trend wherein ostensibly balanced law schools host biased events that exclude relevant voices from the conversation. The University of Colorado Law School panel last week was focused on “holding fossil fuel companies liable for climate change.” This event was co-hosted by the Center for Climate Integrity and included speakers who were either directly involved in, or actively proponents of, the Boulder lawsuit. Any notion of a balanced discussion at the event in Colorado was addressed only as an afterthought, despite the involvement of high-level university administrators.

The Manufacturers’ Accountability Project regrets that these discussions treat manufacturers as enemies instead of allies. As MAP has often said, innovation and collaboration are crucial to making progress on climate change. Trying to tackle the problem through lawsuits will only delay action and distract attention from real solutions.

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Manufacturers: Law Schools Should Provide Balanced Discussion of Climate Litigation

News Release from Manufacturers’ Accountability Project, May 3, 2019

Washington, D.C. — Phil Goldberg, Special Counsel for the NAM’s Manufacturers’ Accountability Project, issued the following statement on the University of Hawaii William S. Richardson School of Law hosting a climate litigation panel featuring only advocates of these lawsuits. The event is on the heels of a similar one-sided panel that took place last week at the University of Colorado Law School:

“Today’s event on climate change litigation is concerning because the law school – in putting on a 5-hour, 10 speaker program – has excluded anyone who disagrees with these discredited lawsuits. Law schools usually pride themselves on putting education first, and presenting their students and communities with diverse viewpoints.

Here, the idea of suing America’s energy industry for climate change-related conduct and harms has been rejected many times, including by the highest court in the land. The students and public should hear from people who can explain why there is no valid legal or public policy basis for suing companies that manufacture the energy products that we all use to heat our homes, drive our cars and power our businesses.

What the law school should have embraced is an earnest public policy debate over the best way to reduce climate change emissions and impacts. The truth is that innovation, not meritless litigation, has always been the way our country has brought about the type of societal-wide advancements needed here.

We reached out to the Dean immediately when we saw the public notice of today’s event to offer our assistance in finding people who can provide needed balance to this program. We continue to stand ready to work with her and any other law school who would welcome an honest debate on climate change litigation and effective policy solutions.”

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Honolulu Star Advertiser: Court ruled against climate-change lawsuits

From Manufacturers’ Accountability Project, May 13, 2019

I expect activists to believe their propaganda, but not well-respected law school faculty. Denise Antolini could not be more wrong in saying that suing energy manufacturers over global climate change was somehow “tried-and-true” (“Climate change litigation for Hawaii?,” Star-Advertiser, Island Voices, May 5).

The Supreme Court, in a unanimous decision written by Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg in 2011, warned against any such lawsuits, saying there is “no room” for litigation over climate change public policy. Since then, several federal courts and judges have refused to blame America’s energy manufacturers for global climate change, saying there is no legal wrong that needs to be remedied.

The better path is for communities to join manufacturers who are working on new technologies for reducing climate change emissions and impacts. Innovation, not baseless lawsuits, has always been the way our country has brought about the type of societal – wide advancements needed here.

The letter to the editor was published in the Honolulu Star Advertiser here.

Phil Goldberg

Special counsel to the Manufacturers’ Accountability Project

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The Manufacturers’ Accountability Project (MAP) will set the record straight and highlight the concerted, coordinated campaign being waged by plaintiffs’ lawyers, public officials, deep-pocketed foundations and other activists who have sought to undermine and weaken manufacturers in the United States. This campaign will pull back the curtain to expose these efforts and to hold key actors accountable in order to protect our members and American manufacturing workers. The MAP is a project of the NAM’s Manufacturers’ Center for Legal Action (MCLA), which serves as the leading voice of manufacturers in the nation’s courts. Visit us at



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