SCOTUS to permit junk local weather lawsuits in State courts… Yawn – Watts Up With That?

Guest “fake news” by David Middleton

“O Vanguard of the Climatariat, smite the denialists and lead the masses. O forward-looking shepherds of a mindless flock, go forth and cool the earth”

Tongan prayer according to the Columbia Journalism Review

Supreme Court deals blow to oil companies by turning away climate cases


Lawrence Hurley

WASHINGTON — The Supreme Court on Monday allowed lawsuits brought by municipalities seeking to hold energy companies accountable for climate change to move forward in a loss for business interests.

The court turned away oil company appeals in five cases involving claims brought by cities and municipalities in Colorado, Maryland, California, Hawaii and Rhode Island as part of efforts to hold businesses accountable for the effects of climate change.


“Big Oil companies have been desperate to avoid trials in state courts, where they will be forced to defend their climate lies in front of juries, and today the Supreme Court declined to bail them out,” said Richard Wiles, president of the Center for Climate Integrity, an environmental group.


NBC News

Why is this “fake news”? Because it’s not really newsworthy and certainly not a “blow to oil companies.” It just means that the junk climate lawsuits will have to work their way through State and Federal courts. This ruling was foreordained by the 2022 SCOTUS 6-3 decision in West Virginia v. Environmental Protection Agency. (I don’t care if foreordained might not be the right word here.)

The misguided 2005 SCOTUS 5-4 decision in Massachusetts v. Environmental Protection Agency essentially federalized the issue of regulations related to climate change. The subsequent 2009 endangerment finding essentially self-empowered the EPA to regulate greenhouse gas emissions.

The mind bogglingly stupid Clean Power Plan of 2015 effectively established a framework for regulating greenhouse gas emissions from power plants. While being baseless in fact and law, these three events essentially blocked junk climate lawsuits in State courts. In 2016, SCOTUS stayed the Clean Power Plan in a 5-4 decision.

The stay was issued along party lines, with the five conservative-leaning justices voting for the stay and the liberal-leaning justices voting against it. However, four days after the high court issued its stay, Justice Antonin Scalia passed away. Because the Court issued its stay prior to Justice Scalia’s death, it remains in place. However, there is now a 4–4 tie among the justices as to whether the EPA has the powers it proposes to exercise under the Clean Power Plan. The Court is expected to remain at just eight justices for quite some time, due to an impending standoff between President Obama and the Senate over Justice Scalia’s replacement. If that is the case, then the ultimate decision on the legality of the Clean Power Plan may lie with the D.C. Circuit for the time being, due to Supreme Court rules on ties. In the event of a tie, the Court upholds the decision of the lower court, but that decision does not apply outside the circuit and does not create precedent.


Had Donald Trump not crushed Hillary Clinton in 2016, SCOTUS would have upheld the Clean Power Plan, the EPA would be aggressively regulating greenhouse gas emissions and, as a consolation prize, the junk climate lawsuits would be deader than Elvis. SCOTUS is now composed of 3 Justices who will always uphold the Constitution, 2 who will almost always uphold the Constitution, a Chief Justice who will usually uphold the Constitution and 3 who will always uphold the Communist Manifesto… {/Rant Off}

In 2022, the Court ruled that the Clean Air Act did not empower the EPA regulate greenhouse gas emissions to the extent imposed in the 2015 Clean Power Plan.

Congress did not grant the Environmental Protection Agency in Section 111(d) of the Clean Air Act the authority to devise emissions caps based on the generation shifting approach the Agency took in the Clean Power Plan.

Under the “major questions doctrine,” there are “extraordinary cases” in which the “history and the breadth of the authority that [the agency] has asserted,” and the “economic and political significance” of that assertion, provide a “reason to hesitate before concluding that Congress” meant to confer such authority. This is one such case, so the EPA must point to “clear congressional authorization” for the authority it claims. It cannot do so.


This effectively opened to floodgates to junk litigation against energy companies. These junk lawsuits have no merits and will only succeed when juries rule on emotion. Ultimately, this will probably come back to SCOTUS for the final decision.

Monday’s high court decision also finds that the Clean Air Act does not completely bar state law claims regarding interstate pollution, ClearView noted, adding “therefore, these cases can and should be adjudicated by state courts.” The industry wagered that the state lawsuits might be quashed by the Clean Air Act, which federal agencies have used to address carbon emissions.

The research firm noted that the state court process can take a year or more and any decision on the actual merits of the cases “could still be years away.”

It also said that allowing the cases to play out in state court does not prevent the energy companies from winning on the merits — by arguing that federal law bars the cases. Nor does it prevent federal review of future state court rulings.

“The Supreme Court may still yet be the final word on the merits of the climate liability cases — several years from now,” ClearView wrote.

E&E Climatewire

But… Hey… EXXON KNEW… Right?

This cartoon appears on page 62 of the Charleston SC lawsuit and nearly every other junk climate lawsuit:

Figure 1. This is Figure 3 in the Charleston lawsuit. It is Exxon’s “Black” cartoon. The exact image and caption are in multiple junk lawsuits.

The exact same image, including the caption is in Delaware’s recent junk lawsuit. The graph is from what is known as the “Black presentation” and supposedly reveals Exxon’s secret knowledge of climate change, which was being withheld from the public. The “infamous” 1978 Black presentation was derived from government and academic publications and conferences on the so-called greenhouse effect.

Here’s what Exxon (and/or Mobil) knew in 1978…

Figure 2.. Exxon knew that most government and academic scientists wanted more research money.

Figure 3. In 1978, Exxon knew that the effects on sea level and the polar ice caps would likely be negligible, models were useless and more effort should be directed at paleoclimatology.

Black’s allegedly proprietary climate model was just a cartoon based on publicly available literature. I overlaid HadCRUT4 (Northern Hemisphere) on the Black cartoon:

If HadCRUT4 is right (it isn’t), it’s now only slightly warmer than the “approximate range of undisturbed climate in past few centuries.”  Just like the models of today, the observations track at or below the 95% confidence band.  Way back in 1977, Exxon Knew that the climate models overestimated warming!

What’s even funnier? The “Black presentation” was made during the height of That 70’s Climate Crisis Show. If the climate models are correct (they aren’t), ExxonMobil and other purveyors of fossil fuels saved the world from this:

Figure 5. The Climatariat tell us that temperature observations have followed the black curve and that the blue curve is what the temperatures would have done if we just agreed to freeze in the dark for the sake of Polar Bears. Modified after IPCC AR4

Just imagine the lawsuit if Exxon and all of the other purveyors of fossil fuels had stopped producing and selling fossil fuels back when they first learned “that unrestricted production and use of fossil fuel products create greenhouse gas pollution that warms the planet and changes our climate,” and this actually occurred:

This section was adapted from: Charleston SC Junk Climate Lawsuit.

Maybe we should be suing them

The climatariat claim that fossil fuel consumption kills people (Bressler, 2021) and we should immediately stop using them.

The social, or financial, cost of carbon has become a widely-used metric after its creation by economist William Nordhaus, who subsequently won a Nobel prize, in the 1990s. The measurement calculates the damage caused by a ton of emissions, factored with the ability to adapt to the changing climate.

Under Nordhaus’ DICE model the 2020 social cost of carbon is $37 a metric ton but Bressler’s addition of the mortality cost brings this figure up to $258 a ton. This change to the model would imply that an economically optimal policy would be to radically reduce emissions to reach full decarbonization by 2050, a scenario that has also been backed by climate scientists as one that would avoid the worst ravages of global heating.

“Nordhaus came up with a fantastic model but he didn’t take in the latest literature on climate change’s damage upon mortality, there’s been an explosion of research on that topic in recent years,” said Bressler.

The Grauniad, July 2021

This carbon tax calculator only goes up to $50/ton. Just multiply the $50/ton tax by 4.7 to get the effect of a $235/ton tax.

A $258/ton carbon tax would have this effect on reliable energy prices:

Figure 5. Impact of a $235/ton carbon tax.

While numbers can vary depending on grades of gasoline, on average, the combustion of 1 gallon of gasoline yields 8.89 kg of CO2.

  • 1 metric ton = 1,000 kg
  • $235/metric ton = $0.235/kg
  • 8.89 kg/gal x $0.235/kg = $2.09/gal… Slightly higher than the calculator

How does a gallon of gasoline, which weighs less than 3 kg, yield nearly 9 kg of CO2?

Molecular weight:

Chemical equation for combustion of octane:

  • 2[C8H18] + 25[O2] → 16[CO2] + 18[H2O]

The C comes from gasoline, the O2 comes from the air.

The Grauniad article even idiotically states that “three Americans create enough carbon emissions to kill one person”… Splain this then:

From 1800 to 1900, per capita energy consumption, primarily from biomass, remained relatively flat; as did the average life expectancy. From 1900 to 1978, per capita energy consumption roughly tripled with the rapid growth in fossil fuel production (coal, oil & gas). This was accompanied by a doubling of average life expectancy. While I can’t say that fossil fuels caused the increase in life expectancy, I can unequivocally state that everything that enabled the increase in life expectancy wouldn’t have existed or happened without fossil fuels, particularly petroleum.

Our modern society would not exist without fossil fuels and it would collapse in a heartbeat if fossil fuels were made unavailable and/or unaffordable.

The Modern World Can’t Exist Without These Four Ingredients. They All Require Fossil Fuels


MAY 12, 2022

Modern societies would be impossible without mass-scale production of many man-made materials. We could have an affluent civilization that provides plenty of food, material comforts, and access to good education and health care without any microchips or personal computers: we had one until the 1970s, and we managed, until the 1990s, to expand economies, build requisite infrastructures and connect the world by jetliners without any smartphones and social media. But we could not enjoy our quality of life without the provision of many materials required to embody the myriad of our inventions.

Four materials rank highest on the scale of necessity, forming what I have called the four pillars of modern civilization: cement, steel, plastics, and ammonia are needed in larger quantities than are other essential inputs. The world now produces annually about 4.5 billion tons of cement, 1.8 billion tons of steel, nearly 400 million tons of plastics, and 180 million tons of ammonia. But it is ammonia that deserves the top position as our most important material: its synthesis is the basis of all nitrogen fertilizers, and without their applications it would be impossible to feed, at current levels, nearly half of today’s nearly 8 billion people.


Smil is Distinguished Professor Emeritus at the University of Manitoba. He is the author of over forty books on topics including energy, environmental and population change, food production and nutrition, technical innovation, risk assessment, and public policy. His new book is How the World Really Works

Time Magazine

Natural gas literally feeds half the people on this planet.

About 25% of bulk chemical natural gas consumption is used as a feedstock for fertilizer production. The Haber-Bosch process, which manufactures synthetic fertilizer from natural gas and atmospheric nitrogen, feeds nearly half of the world population.

“Trends in human population and nitrogen use throughout the twentieth century. Of the total world population (solid line), an estimate is made of the number of people that could be sustained without reactive nitrogen from the Haber–Bosch process (long dashed line), also expressed as a percentage of the global population (short dashed line). The recorded increase in average fertilizer use per hectare of agricultural land (blue symbols) and the increase in per capita meat production (green symbols) is also shown.” Erisman et al., 2008

The climatariat modelers claim that fossil fuel emissions are killing 8 million people per year… While real world data demonstrate that 4 billion people would quickly starve to death without fossil fuels and the other 4 billion people would be deprived of damn near everything required for life in the modern world.

The hysterical demands to end fossil fuels are essentially demands for genocide. Under the right (or wrong) circumstances, junk lawsuits could be the first wave in such a genocide. While these junk lawsuits are unlikely to succeed with the current ideological composition of the US Supreme Court, Justices Thomas and Alito are in their 70’s. If Biden is given an opportunity to replace them, the Court would have a solid 5-4 left wing majority. Such a court would wholeheartedly uphold such thermonuclear lawfare against the fossil fuels industries and capitalism in general.

This issue is at least as important as our recent global financial crisis – probably more so in the long run. It has been said that regulating carbon dioxide emissions will make the United States the cleanest Third World country on Earth. And whoever controls carbon dioxide emissions will control the world.

Dr. Roy Spencer, April 2009


Bressler, R.D. The mortality cost of carbon. Nat Commun 12, 4467 (2021).

Erisman, J. W., Sutton, M. A., Galloway, J., Klimont, Z. & Winiwarter, W. How a century of ammonia synthesis changed the world. Nat. Geosci.1,636–639 (2008)

“Massachusetts v. Environmental Protection Agency.” Oyez, Accessed 25 Apr. 2023.

“West Virginia v. Environmental Protection Agency.” Oyez, Accessed 25 Apr. 2023.

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