Earth Day 2019: The Year in Environmental Litigation

By Christopher Coble, Esq. on April 22, 2019

For over almost 50 years, we've been celebrating Earth Day every April 22. And while the general goal of events worldwide is the same -- to honor our planet and the concept of peace -- our understanding of environmental science and the legal framework we use to protect natural resources and our climate, has shifted dramatically over that time.

So in honor of this year's Earth Day, we thought we'd look at seven of the biggest legal cases from the past year that impacted or could impact environmental law and climate change.

1. Kids' Climate Change Lawsuit Update

If you hadn't heard, 21 children and young adults are suing the government, claiming the president and various government agencies have done too little to address global warming. As you'd imagine, the suit is scientifically and jurisdictionally complex, so here's the latest.

2. Court Accepts Global Warming, Rejects Cities' Lawsuit

In a separate lawsuit, a federal judge in California accepted the science behind climate change as being sound, but declined to hold oil companies sued by San Francisco and Oakland liable for damages that result from global warming.

3. Tribes File Lawsuit to Block Keystone Pipeline

The protests may not be on your television any more, but that just means the battle over the Keystone Pipeline has moved to the courtroom. Two tribes from Montana and South Dakota claim the Trump administration conducted no new environmental review in granting permits to build the pipeline.

4. Ben and Jerry's Sued Over Environmental Claims

The ice cream makers have a pretty liberal reputation, but one lawsuit claims the company is not as environmentally friendly as it says it is.

Black neighborhoods between Baton Rouge and New Orleans were secretly re-zoned from residential to "Residential-Future Industrial," allowing petrochemical companies to move in and the cancer rate of residents to skyrocket.

6. EPA Sued for Toxic Paint Stripper

The Environmental Protection Agency has become a popular target for lawsuits, as plaintiffs claim the agency hasn't done enough to protect the environment.

7. Colorado Sues Two Oil Companies for Causing Climate Change

The other popular target? Oil and gas companies. Colorado is claiming Exxon and Suncor are responsible for "dwindling" snow pack, increased fire risk, and changes in the amount of annual precipitation, all caused by climate change

Climate change means weather can become more extreme, affecting the entire planet. And locally, pollutants can cause sickness and death. If you have a legal claim based on environmental conditions, contact an experienced attorney today.

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