Law360 Quotes Rex Heinke on Citizens Groups and Global Warming Suits

Akin Gump Supreme Court and appellate practice co-head Rex Heinke was quoted by Law360 for its article “Dead End For Private Climate Suits Leaves Opening For Gov't” on the impact of a 9th Circuit reversal for lack of plaintiffs’ standing of a federal court decision that would have had Washington state regulators impose tougher greenhouse gas emission regulations on oil refineries.

Heinke noted that the ruling makes it extremely difficult for environmental organizations to litigate for general climate change damage, adding “The whole nature of greenhouse gas emissions is that every single living thing emits carbon dioxide. Then it goes into the atmosphere and stays there for decades, if not centuries. How can you connect a particular emitter to a particular climatic effect?”

Regarding the possibility that government at the state and local level could make headway where private entities could not, he said, “There's a big distinction between private parties seeking relief and governmental entities.” 

Heinke also noted that he was unsurprised by the 9th Circuit’s decision, particularly in light of the same circuit’s decision in Native Village of Kivalina v. Exxon Mobil Corp., which found that the plaintiffs had not show causation between global warming damage and the defendants’ actions: “The ability of private parties to come in and claim that they have been injured by greenhouse gas emissions is essentially nonexistent.”

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