Court Ruling A Major Victory In Fight Against Global Warming
Friends Of The Earth Case Establishes New Legal Precedents
SAN FRANCISCO — A precedent setting decision by a federal judge in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California recognized the importance of global warming and found that the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) applies to major federal government projects that contribute to climate change.
“This ruling is a great victory in the battle against global warming,” said Norman L. Dean, Executive Director of Friends of the Earth. “It gives citizens legal standing to challenge major federal projects that contribute to global warming and requires federal agencies to consider climate impacts when undertaking such projects.”
The case, filed in August 2002 by Friends of the Earth, Greenpeace, and four cities, charged that the Administration’s Export-Import Bank and Overseas Private Investment Corporation provided more than $32 billion in financial assistance to oil and other fossil fuel projects without first evaluating the projects’ global warming impacts to the United States. The cities of Oakland, Arcata and Santa Monica, Calif. and Boulder, Colo. are parties to the suit.
Despite the judge’s findings that NEPA applies to major projects build outside the U.S. that have domestic impact, the judge found that he had insufficient evidence in this case to reach a final decision. The case now either proceeds to trial or the parties can appeal. The court rejected two key government arguments that the case could not be heard because the challenged projects are outside the U.S, and that the impacts of global warming on the U.S. environment are too remote and speculative to be considered.
“We have lost a minor battle but are now winning the war,” said Dean. “The courts have echoed the scientific consensus that the government cannot continue with business as usual when it creates major projects that contribute to global warming. Now it is up to the Bush administration to respect scientific and legal opinions and stop climate damaging projects.”
Michael Khoo, Fenton Communications, 202-669-7911
Norman Dean, Friends of the Earth, 301-526-3104