Climate change lawsuits to be tougher

Published: Friday, Oct. 9 2015 6:56 a.m. MDT

SALT LAKE CITY — Lawmakers have made it tougher for people to bring lawsuits against industry for so-called climate change-induced weather brought on by greenhouse gas emissions.

Under the measure brought by Rep. Mike Noel, R-Kanab, litigants first would have to prove by "clear and convincing" evidence that damages suffered were brought on by emissions levels that exceeded state regulatory and permitting limits. They also would have to identify each pollutant.

Noel said he ran HB395 because of lawsuits that have been filed around the country targeting industries over greenhouse gas emissions. He specifically mentioned a lawsuit brought by a dozen Hurricane Katrina victims who are seeking compensation from 33 oil companies. Their claim, which was given standing by a judge, asserts the hurricane was the result of global warming caused by those companies.

Co-sponsor Sen. Scott Jenkins, R-Plain City, told his colleagues on the Senate floor Thursday that while no lawsuit similar to the Katrina litigation has been filed in Utah yet, they are becoming "trendy." "With 97 percent of power in this state coming from coal — and coal seems to be the product under attack — this is definitely a defensive move."

The bill cleared both legislative bodies and awaits the governor's signature.

e-mail: amyjoi@desnews.com

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