As the world grapples with a worsening air pollution crisis, it’s time to consider the legal challenges facing the fight against climate change.
Environmental lawyers and activists have made a strong case that climate change is real, and the stakes are too high for the status quo to continue.
Lawyer Paul P. Chabot, an environmental attorney in Washington, DC, and an adjunct professor at Columbia Law School, told Business Insider that environmental groups have made “an enormous amount of money” on a variety of lawsuits, most notably a 2014 lawsuit in which a federal appeals court overturned a California law requiring oil companies to disclose whether they’re polluting waterways and groundwater.
“They’ve made enormous amounts of money off of this, and it’s not just the oil companies,” Chabots lawyer, Richard Nadelmann, told the Business Insider reporter.
“It’s been all the coal companies and coal-fired power plants, the coal mining companies, and gas pipelines, as well as pipelines in the pipeline network.”
The most recent case Chabos law firm brought was against the US government over its decision to close the controversial Dakota Access pipeline.
As the Justice Department explained in a court filing in the case, the project would have shipped 470,000 barrels of crude oil per day, enough to supply the United States for an average year.
But environmental groups and some Native Americans opposed the pipeline and challenged the project’s legality.
A few weeks after the court decision, the Obama administration announced it was rescinding the pipeline’s permit.
Chavo is also a lead attorney on a lawsuit that’s being brought by the United Nations against the Trump administration over the Paris climate accord.
This isn’t the first time Chabott has brought climate change litigation against the government.
He filed a case against the Environmental Protection Agency, the US Bureau of Land Management, and others over their decision to reduce methane emissions from oil and gas drilling on federal lands.
The law firm said in a statement to Business Insider the Trump Administration’s move to rescind permits for drilling on public lands will hurt those communities.
“The Trump Administration has failed to live up to its promise to protect public lands and to respect the rights of tribal nations,” said Chabo.
It’s not the first case Chahots law firm has brought, but it is one of the most serious.
In March 2016, he won a victory in a federal court case that would have required the government to provide a detailed environmental impact statement for the Keystone XL pipeline project.
When the case was appealed, the Supreme Court rejected the challenge, ruling that it was not an “unconstitutional challenge.”
The case came about when Chaboti was a professor at Harvard Law School.
Chabots law office, which he started out as a graduate student, is located in a former law school building.
While it’s unclear whether the law firm plans to seek a higher court hearing on whether to continue the case in the future, Chabotti told Business Insider that he’s confident that it will be heard in the Supreme to the Supreme.
The ruling was “a big deal for us,” he said.
“We had to do something about it.
The administration didn’t like that, and they’re trying to take away all our rights.
And we have the right to defend ourselves.”
In a recent article, Chabaots lawyer wrote that the Trump Trump administration’s decision to rescind the Keystone pipeline’s permits “is an important victory, but there is no doubt that the Obama Administration will not hesitate to revisit its decision.”
“We’ll need to work very hard to defend this case in court, and we’ll be doing everything we can to ensure that the pipeline does not move forward, so that future administrations will not have to make similar decisions.”
Chabot also said that the case will be interesting for the future.
“The courts have shown that they are very responsive to what the people are asking them to do,” he told Business Independent.
“And if this case does succeed, it will show that people can fight the government on climate change.”
If you or anyone you know needs help with a climate change case, contact the National Environmental Law Center at 888-348-5277 or visit nelc.org.