A New York Times story criticizing natural gas fracking raises controversy. [Ira Stoll, more, Diana Furchtgott-Roth]
Filmmaker Phelim McAleer raises some questions about widely disseminated charges of environmental harm.
Ted at Point of Law has details on an environmental-remediation law that has helped perpetuate a culture of big-ticket litigation: “One verdict awarded $54 million for environmental damage to a piece of land that was never worth more than $108,000.” We covered the long-running Exxon v. Grefer case, in which a jury ordered the oil company to pay $1 billion (later knocked down to $112 million) over an instance of contamination on land owned by a Louisiana judge’s family.
From commenter Bill Poser in the Starbucks tip jar thread:
Some years ago here in British Columbia a guy filled up his car and then drove off without paying. The attendant ran after him, grabbed the door handle, got his hand stuck, and was dragged to death. This led to a successful campaign to require prepayment at gas stations, which is very inconvenient if you aren’t able to use a credit card or debit card at the pump. “Gas and dash” incidents may have been frequent enough to justify this, but that wasn’t the argument. The argument was that this measure was necessary for the safety of the attendants. Of course, all that is really required for the safety of the attendants is for them not to go running after and grabbing onto fleeing vehicles. The attendant’s death was tragic, but it was a freak accident triggered by the attendant’s brave but foolish attempt to prevent the theft of a rather modest amount of money.
Canada.com has a further report on the “B.C. WorkSafe” regulation.
Reversing a state appeals court, the Louisiana Supreme Court has reinstated summary judgment in favor of a defendant manufacturer in the case of a 13-year-old injured while playing unsupervised with an oil pump, “finding that riding an oil-well pump like it was an amusement park ride was not a reasonably anticipated use of the pumping unit at the time of its manufacture in the 1950′s.” [Wajert; earlier]
By reversing a grant of summary judgment, a Louisiana court has reinstated a suit alleging that the manufacturer of a 50-year-old oil pump should have reasonably anticipated that a 13-year-old boy would climb onto its moving pendulum and attempt to ride it for fun, thus injuring himself. As evidence that such a use was reasonably foreseeable, plaintiffs offered three instances in which kids had been hurt attempting similar stunts in other states — all of which, as it happened, had occurred well after the making of the Louisiana pump, leaving it unclear in what way they could have served to put its manufacturer “on notice” of anything. [Sean Wajert]
Critics say the U.S. government has turned down offers of state-of-the-art Gulf cleanup help from the Netherlands and other countries because it would require a waiver of the Jones Act, a union-backed law from 1920 that restricts coastwise marine trade to U.S. ships and crews. [Houston Chronicle, Mark Perry, Mike Riggs/Daily Caller] More: Keith Hennessey, via PoL, on the Bush Administration experience with Jones Act waivers after Katrina and Rita. Yet more: according to the Obama administration, waivers wouldn’t make a difference. More: Bainbridge.
Don’t trust the reports of a supposed $75 million limit on damages, which are being spread by some who should know better — including New York Times columnist Paul Krugman.
More: Katrina Kuh at Prawfsblawg takes a look at proposed legislation on the topic. And welcome readers of Daniel Gross’s Slate column.
“[Then Congress] went off and passed by 324 to 82 votes the so-called NOPEC bill. The NOPEC bill is, in effect, a suit against OPEC, which, if I recall correctly, stands for the Oil Price-Exploiting Club. “No War For Oil!,” as the bumper stickers say. But a massive suit for oil — now that’s the American way! …
“Congress hauls Big Oil execs in for the dinner-theatre version of a Soviet show trial and then passes irrelevant poseur legislation like the NOPEC bill. Plus ca change you can believe in, plus c’est la meme chose. The NOPEC bill is really the NO PECS bill — a waste of photocopier paper passed by what C. S. Lewis called ‘men without chests’.” (“Fill Her Up with Hot Air”, National Review Online, May 24)(via Lindgren @ Volokh).
Don’t expect the much-hyped Kivalina suit to bring down Big Energy, the columnist says, but it might just keep the lawyers at Hagens Berman in BMWs:
The Inupiat Eskimos are perfect, jury-worthy plaintiffs. They have occupied their tiny barrier reef, just a few feet above sea level, “since time immemorial,” according to the lawsuit. They are poor. They live in harmony with nature, according to the documentary. (Pay no attention to those all-terrain vehicles zipping around town, and the kid flashing the gang sign.) …
Some judges may be liberal, but they’re not idiots. They know that utilities sold electricity to Americans because their customers wanted to jack up the AC. In fact, there isn’t a utility in America that hasn’t spent the past 20 years begging its customers to use less oil and gas. There is an inconvenient truth if I ever saw one.
Not to be missed (“Eskimos, whales, and luaus…Oh my!”, Boston Globe, May 24).