Center for Biological Diversity plans suits against virtually all
energy, minerals projects
Center for Biological Diversity Declares Legal War on Global
SAN FRANCISCO, California, February 13, 2009 (ENS) - To fight
climate change, the nonprofit Center for Biological Diversity
Thursday opened a new law institute in San Francisco and announced
the dedication of an initial $17 million to the project.
The Climate Law Institute will use existing laws and work to
establish new state and federal laws that will eliminate energy
generation by the burning of fossil fuels - particularly coal and
Burning these materials emits greenhouse gases into the atmosphere
that have already raised the planetary temperature, threatening
the widespread extinction of species, sea level rise and ocean
acidity, food and water scarcity, heatwaves, wildfires and floods.
"Global warming is the greatest challenge humanity has ever faced.
It is the defining issue of our time," said Kieran Suckling,
executive director of the Center.
"To meet the challenge, the Center for Biological Diversity has
created the Climate Law Institute to extend the reach of current
environmental and human health laws to encompass global warming,
pass new climate legislation, and reinvent America's approach to
protecting endangered species and public lands," he said.
"The planet can not afford a single new coal-fired power plant,"
said Suckling. "It can't even afford existing coal plants. Working
with partners in government and the environmental movement, the
Center for Biological Diversity will ensure America moves beyond
coal energy as rapidly as possible. Our lives depend on it."
Since the early 1990s the Center has used existing laws and
advocated for new laws and policies to protect rare and imperiled
species, first in the Southwest, and later across the country.
With the creation of the Climate Law Institute, the group is
reorganizing to integrate global warming into all of its
Kassie Siegel testifies on behalf of polar bears before the House
Select Committee on Energy Independence and Global Warming.
January 2008 (Photo courtesy HSCEI) The institute will be directed
by attorney Kassie Siegel, the current director of the Center's
Climate, Air, and Energy program. That program will be replaced by
the new institute, which will expand and direct climate change
work across all of the Center's programs to protect biodiversity,
oceans, public lands and urban wildlands.
Siegel authored the scientific petition and argued the legal case
that won Endangered Species Act protection for the polar bear due
to global warming in 2008.
Siegel was named California Lawyer of the Year for successfully
arguing a 2007 case that overturned inadequate federal
fuel-economy standards for failing to consider their contribution
to global warming. She shared this award with the Climate Law
Institute advisory board member Deborah Sivas, who serves as
director of the Stanford Environmental Law Clinic.
In 2006, Siegel brought a successful case under the Global Change
Research Act, forcing the Bush administration to release
suppressed studies documenting the ecological, economic, and human
health impacts of global warming.
The primary goals of the Climate Law Institute are to:
Establish legal precedents requiring existing environmental laws
such as the Clean Air Act, Endangered Species Act, National
Environmental Protection Act, Clean Water Act, and the California
Environmental Quality Act to be fully implemented to regulate
greenhouse gas emissions, land management, and wildlife management
Establish new state and federal environmental laws and policies to
rein in global warming
Ensure all new laws and policies are judged against the scientific
standard of whether they will lead to a reduction in atmospheric
carbon dioxide from the current level of 385 parts per million to
below 350 ppm
Prevent the construction of new coal-fired power plants and coal
mines while quickly phasing out existing coal-fired power plants
Prevent the creation of an oil-shale or tar sands energy sector
Reverse the deadly process of ocean acidification
Prevent the loss of Arctic ice cover and likely runaway global
warming that would ensue "Climate change is a crisis we don't need
and can't afford. It's time to kick the fossil fuel addiction once
and for all," said Climate Law Institute advisory board member
Patrick Parenteau, professor of law at the Vermont Law School.
"Environmental protection in the U.S. has always revolved around
the creation and interpretation of law. The Climate Law Institute
is an exciting and necessary effort to fast-track the development
of climate change case law."
Initial funding of $6.3 million for the Climate Law Institute has
been provided by the California Community Foundation, The Sandler
Foundation, The Richard and Rhoda Goldman Fund, and others.