The suite of climate adaptation cases brought by Conservation Law Foundation together with Kanner & Whiteley that allege that fossil fuel companies have failed to adapt certain port facilities to withstand the effects of rising sea levels and intensifying extreme weather events were recently highlighted in an August 2022 publication by Columbia Law School’s Sabin Center for Climate Change Law entitled Climate Science in Adaptation Litigation in the U.S. In the article, author Jacob Elkin discusses various climate change adaptation cases and the role of climate science in such litigation, including four cases brought by CLF. You can access the article here.
The article praises the CLF cases for providing “the most detailed scientific record” and “particularly helpful insights into the role that climate science may play in adaptation litigation.” In its complaints, CLF utilized a variety of scientific resources, including FEMA flood maps, NOAA SLOSH maps, National Climate Assessments, IPCC reports, state climate assessments, and individual peer-reviewed studies, to support its allegations that fossil fuel companies have failed to adapt certain port facilities to withstand the predicted impacts of climate change in violation of the Clean Water Act and RCRA.
The article also commended CLF for its successes in defeating defendants’ arguments in their motions to dismiss attacking the legitimacy of the lawsuits based on “uncertainties” in climate assessments in both Massachusetts and Rhode Island, as well as CLF’s successful arguments made against ExxonMobil before the First Circuit that courts need not refuse questions related to climate science in deference to the EPA.