Attentive CLW readers recall our report in April that the transparency group Energy Policy Advocates had filed an amicus brief in the U.S. Supreme Court in BP P.L.C. et al. v. Mayor and City Council of Baltimore. This brief set forth proof, in the form of a confession twice-recorded and second-sourced in public records, that the epidemic of “climate nuisance” lawsuits being advanced by the plaintiff’s tort bar in state courts across the country is a pursuit by governments for a “sustainable funding stream.”
The tort bar has turned to state courts after having their campaign shut down in the federal courts by SCOTUS in American Electric Power v. Connecticut, 564 U.S. 410 (2011). As EPA’s amicus suggested, there may be some hope for state-court bias.
In the memo accompanying its motion, EPA provided the Court with two independent sets of notes obtained under a state open records law which purport to record a damning confession by Janet Coit, a senior State of Rhode Island official: the objective of RI’s litigation — which Ms. Coit emphasized was a being advanced not in court, but “in state court“ — is to obtain a “sustainable funding stream” for the State’s spending ambitions, having failed to convince the voters’ elected representatives to provide one.
Each of these sets of notes, independently, “document the State’s concession that Rhode Island’s elected representatives are insufficiently moved by the State’s claims of loss and looming disaster to enact laws raising the revenues the State’s executives desire; and, that Plaintiff is thus ‘looking for [a] sustainable funding stream’, having been reduced to ‘suing big oil’ for its ‘Priority – sustainable funding stream’. Notably, both sets of notes capture the Plaintiff as having emphasized the ‘state court’ aspect of its plan.”
These notes were taken by a Colorado State University employee and an aide to billionaire climate activist Tom Steyer’s Energy Foundation, during a two-day meeting in July 2019 hosted by the Rockefeller Brothers Fund at the Rockefeller family mansion at Pocantico, NY.
The setting was a forum for policy activists and their funders to coordinate with senior government officials from 15 states. It is to these officials the Director Coit made her confession.
Rhode Island, in Rhode Island v. Chevron, et al., shares the same legal counsel with the Mayor and City Council of Baltimore. EPA presented the United States Court of Appeals for the First Circuit with these same records filed with the court in that action, over the opposition of Rhode Island and its attorneys, Sher Edling.
EPA received word this morning that the petition for certiorari was granted. “I’m pleased we were able to make a difference in this case, by pointing out the need for federal courts to provide a fair forum when activists attempt to hijack the state court system to raise revenue,” Rob Schilling, EPA’s Executive Director, tells CLW. “We look forward to the Supreme Court now hearing the case on its merits, and we expect we will be able to provide even more evidence of the tort bar’s attempt to use state courts as a revenue stream based on recent open records requests.”