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U.S. Supreme Court declines to hear Alaska climate change case

Source: Reuters - Mon, 20 May 2013 14:09 GMT
Author: Reuters
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A handout photo from 2004 shows coastal erosion of mud-rich permafrost along Beaufort Sea coastline at Drew Point in Alaska. REUTERS/USGS/Gary Clow/Handout
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By Lawrence Hurley

WASHINGTON, May 20 (Reuters) - The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday declined to hear an Alaskan village's claim that it should be able to sue oil companies and utilities for damages attributed to climate change.

Lawyers for the village of Kivalina wanted various named defendants responsible for greenhouse emissions, including Exxon Mobil Corp, Chevron Corp and Duke Energy Corp , to pay damages for greater flooding and erosion that they say have caused by a reduction in sea ice.

The court's refusal to take the case means an appeals court ruling in favor of the defendants remains intact.

The appeals court said that Kivalina could not pursue its lawsuit under federal common law because the Clean Air Act and Obama administration regulations aimed at cutting emissions displaced such claims.

That decision was prompted in large part by a 2011 Supreme Court decision, American Electric Power v. Connecticut, in which the court held unanimously that similar claims were displaced.

Kivalina, an Inupiat native community of about 400 people, sits on the end of a six-mile barrier island on the northwest coast of Alaska.

The case is Kivalina v. Exxon Mobil Corp, et al, U.S. Supreme Court, No. 12-1072.

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