Appeals court refuses to dismiss Katrina greenhouse gases suit


Energy and chemical companies wanted a federal court to dismiss a lawsuit that linked greenhouse gas emissions to Hurricane Katrina, but the court said no.

The lawsuit alleges greenhouse-gas emissions from energy and chemical companies contributed the intensity of Hurricane Katrina. Filed by landowners in U.S. District Court in Gulfport in September 2005, the lawsuit had been dismissed in 2007 and later reinstated. The companies appealed the reinstatement.

The 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled May 28 it didn’t have a quorum — or majority — of judges available to hear the companies’ appeal after many of them recused themselves.

A three-judge panel of the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in October said the landowners had shown they had suffered an injury that could be traced back to the energy and chemical companies.

In the lawsuit the landowners alleged greenhouse gases from companies also contributed to global warming and caused sea levels to rise and added to the intensity of Hurricane Katrina. They are seeking compensatory and punitive damages against 32 companies and the Tennessee Valley Authority.

The companies have argued global warming was not attributable only to them but resulted from the emissions of greenhouse gases from millions of sources dating back to the Industrial Revolution.

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