On April 1, 2021, the Second Circuit affirmed a district court ruling that wisely declined to move the task of addressing climate change into the federal courts. The appeal arose from New York City’s lawsuit seeking funding for sea-wall construction and other climate-change programs. As part of this search, it sued five companies that produce and sell oil and natural gas. The district court dismissed the City’s claims because (1) they are displaced by federal common law, (2) the Clean Air Act displaces any federal common-law claim directed at domestic fossil-fuel emissions, and (3) any federal common-law claim directed at foreign emissions interferes with the separation of powers and the nation’s foreign policy. The Second Circuit has now affirmed each of these holdings. As WLF’s amicus brief explained, even if it could get to the merits of its lawsuit, the City would face many insurmountable obstacles. One such obstacle is the tort element of proximate cause—the requirement that a direct connection exist between the conduct of the defendant and the harm to the plaintiff.


 Second Circuit decision

2/14/2019 amicus brief