The environment has always been an important issue to Mainers, including myself, and I look forward to hearing more details about the Climate Action Plan unveiled in December. But while I support the plan’s goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions, our leaders in Augusta should pursue a pragmatic approach to enacting climate policy. That approach, however, must be driven by the acknowledgment that our collective actions – not those of any one industry or group of companies – brought us to the environmental reality we are now facing.

Unfortunately, there is a movement to play the blame game as over a dozen municipalities and several states are suing energy manufacturers, seeking damages over climate change impacts. These lawsuits did not spring up organically, but, as the Manufacturers’ Accountability Project (MAP) revealed, are being driven by a coordinated network of various groups, individuals and attorneys. As a law student studying ethics and tort liability, I’m troubled by this climate tort campaign.

Funded by these groups, the attorney and their allies are traveling across the country – and even openly tried to lobby officials here in Maine – in an attempt to recruit more municipalities to file similar litigation. And while not asking for upfront funding from the prospective plaintiffs, they are seeking high contingency fees in the event of a settlement or victory. Furthermore, energy manufacturers are making and selling legal products we use every day, something MAP noted is not a “liability-inducing event.”

We need substantive solutions that welcome the input of manufacturers who are already reducing their environmental footprint, not flawed lawsuits. A long court battle, in which even a successful outcome will do nothing to address climate change, can hardly be considered a pragmatic approach for Maine. Let’s send the litigation roadshow packing.

Allison Bernier