Coal Age

APR 2018

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May 2016 2 editor's note Judge Puts Activists in Their Place I t appeared in The Wall Street Journal on April 1, but it was no April Fools' Day joke. Phelim McAleer, a journalist currently writing about Chevron's legal battle over alleged pollution in Ecuador, was covering California v. Chevron. The case is a civil action brought by the San Francisco and Oakland city attorneys, who accuse oil companies of creating a "public nuisance" by contributing to climate change and a conspiracy to cover it up. No trial date had been set. Instead, Judge William Alsup ordered the litigants to gather for a "climate change tutori- al." The activists were touting this as an environmental coup d'etat, where fossil fuels would finally by exposed as the reason for climate change, but things didn't go their way. The plaintiffs had expert witnesses and the legal talent, including Steve W. Berman, a lawyer who has sued several big companies for large settlements, was representing the cities. McAleer described Judge Alsup's approach with great detail, saying he flattered the plaintiffs' first witness, Oxford physicist Myles Allen, by calling him a "genius." Then he reprimanded Allen for using a mis- leading illustration to represent carbon dioxide in the atmosphere and a graph about rising temperatures that did not show rising temperatures. The judge then asked Gary Griggs, a University of California oceanographer: "What do you think caused the last Ice Age?" Griggs described two extreme climate events, one hot and one cold, before human existence. Both of these accounts, McAleer explained, occurred naturally and the testimony came from a witness for plaintiffs looking to prove American oil companies were responsible for small changes in present-day climate. The defendants' lawyer, Theodore J. Boutrous Jr., emphasized the huge uncertain- ties in reports from the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). According to McAleer, Boutrous noted that the city of San Francisco, while in court claiming that rising sea levels would jeopardize its future, recently issued a 20- year bond and its prospectus said the city was unable to predict whether sea level rise or other impacts of climate change or flooding from a major storm will occur. Alsup also tore apart the conspiracy claim. The plaintiffs alleged that the oil companies had internal documents that would prove their liability. Boutrous pointed out that it was simply an internal summary of the publicly available 1995 IPCC report. The counsel for the plaintiffs were in a bad position and Alsup ad- journed the proceedings. This short article does not do McAleer's piece justice. His description of the law- yers and the judge paints a picture that would be extremely humorous if it weren't so pathetic. Coal Age readers should check out the entire story: climate-alarmists-may-inherit-the-wind-1522605526. McAleer noted that until this point, environmental activists and academics have found a receptive audience with journalists and politicians who struggle with science and often defer to climate change experts. The plaintiffs, he explained, seemed ill-prepared for their first court appearance with an informed judge on their home turf. This was a big win for fossil fuels and it went largely unreported in the mainstream press. Coal Age, Volume 123, Issue 3, (ISSN 1040-7820) is published monthly ex- cept January, June and November, by Mining Media International, Inc., 11655 Central Parkway, Suite 306, Jacksonville, Florida 32224 (mining-media. com). Periodicals postage paid at Jacksonville, FL, and additional mailing offices. Canada Post Publications Mail Agreement No. 41450540. 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Phone: +1.904.721.2925 Fax: +1.904.721.2930 Editorial Publisher & Editor-in-Chief—Steve Fiscor, Associate Editor—Jennifer Jensen, Technical Writer—Jesse Morton, Contributing Editor—Russ Carter, Latin American Editor—Oscar Martinez, Graphic Designer—Tad Seabrook, Sales Midwest/Eastern U.S. & Canada, Sales—Victor Matteucci, Western U.S., Canada & Australia—Frank Strazzulla, Scandinavia, UK and European Sales—Colm Barry, Germany, Austria & Switzerland Sales—Gerd Strasmann, Japan Sales—Masao Ishiguro, Production Manager—Dan Fitts,

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