Quantcast

World's Biggest Coal Company's Bankruptcy Protects It From Climate Lawsuit, Judge Rules

Climate
Haul trucks transport coal at Peabody Energy's North Antelope Rochelle mining complex in the Powder River Basin in 2012. Peabody Energy

Peabody Energy is not responsible for climate impacts incurred before its 2016 bankruptcy filing, a judge ruled this week.

The world's largest private coal company is one of 37 fossil fuel companies being sued by three municipalities in California for damages due to climate change caused by burning fossil fuels and for conducting a "coordinated, multi-front effort" to discredit climate science.


St. Louis Judge Barry Schermer, who presided over the bankruptcy, ruled that the counties missed the deadline to file claims during Peabody's Chapter 11 filing last year and that language around environmental exceptions in Peabody's bankruptcy plan do not apply to the California suit. The coal giant, which lost $2 billion in 2015, posted a quarterly profit of $200 million this week, six months after emerging from bankruptcy.

As reported by Bloomberg:

"St. Louis-based Peabody was sued in July together with global energy companies such as Exxon Mobil Corp. and Royal Dutch Shell Plc. The suit says the companies have known since at least 1965 that their activities were changing the climate, and that there was only a narrow window of time to reverse from a catastrophic course.

Instead, they 'engaged in a coordinated, multi-front effort to conceal and deny their own knowledge,' discredit scientific evidence and mislead the public, San Mateo County said in its suit.

The global warming caused by the burning of fossil fuels extracted by the defendants is expected to lead to 'extreme flooding' on California's coast by 2050, the suits allege."

"We are reviewing the court's decision and considering our options," said Vic Sher, a Sher Edling LLP lawyer representing the California communities, Marketwatch reported. "But it would be a shame if Peabody, the biggest private coal company in the world, can use the bankruptcy laws to avoid defending these cases that call into question their role in damaging our climate, causing sea levels to rise, misleading the public and policy makers about those impacts, and shifting billions of dollars in costs onto coastal communities."

For a deeper dive:

Ruling: Bloomberg, WSJ, Marketwatch. Profits: Casper Star-Tribune

For more climate change and clean energy news, you can follow Climate Nexus on Twitter and Facebook, and sign up for daily Hot News.

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

Record flood water levels in Venice hit again on Sunday making this the worst week of flooding in the city in over 50 years.

Read More Show Less

By Brian Barth

Late fall, after the last crops have been harvested, is a time to rest and reflect on the successes and challenges of the gardening year. But for those whose need to putter around in the garden doesn't end when cold weather comes, there's surely a few lingering chores. Get them done now and you'll be ahead of the game in spring.

Read More Show Less
Sponsored
(L) Selma Three Stone Engagement Ring. (R) The Greener Diamond Farm Project. MiaDonna

By Bailey Hopp

If you had to choose a diamond for your engagement ring from below or above the ground, which would you pick … and why would you pick it? This is the main question consumers are facing when picking out their diamond engagement ring today. With a dramatic increase in demand for conflict-free lab-grown diamonds, the diamond industry is shifting right before our eyes.

Read More Show Less
(L) 3D graphical representation of a spherical-shaped, measles virus particle that is studded with glycoprotein tubercles.
(R) The measles virus pictured under a microscope. PHIL / CDC

The Pacific Island nation of Samoa declared a state of emergency this week, closed all of its schools and limited the number of public gatherings allowed after a measles outbreak has swept across the country of just 200,000 people, according to Reuters.

Read More Show Less
Austin Nuñez is Chairman of the Tohono O'odham Nation, which joined with the Hopi and Pascua Yaqui Tribes to fight a proposed open-pit copper mine on sacred sites in Arizona. Mamta Popat

By Alison Cagle

Rising above the Arizona desert, the Santa Rita Mountains cradle 10,000 years of Indigenous history. The Tohono O'odham Nation, Pascua Yaqui Tribe, and Hopi Tribe, among numerous other tribes, have worshipped, foraged, hunted and laid their ancestors to rest in the mountains for generations.

Read More Show Less
Sponsored
The Navajo Nation has suffered from limited freshwater resources as a result of climate, insufficient infrastructure, and contamination. They collaborated with NASA to develop the Drought Severity Evaluation Tool. NASA Goddard Space Flight Center

Native Americans are disproportionately without access to clean water, according to a new report, "Closing the Water Access Gap in the United States: A National Action Plan," to be released this afternoon, which shows that more than two million Americans do not have access to access to running water, indoor plumbing or wastewater services.

Read More Show Less
Wild Exmoor ponies graze on a meadow in the Czech Republic. rapier / iStock / Getty Images Plus

By Nanticha Ocharoenchai

In the Czech Republic, horses have become the knights in shining armor. A study published in the Journal for Nature Conservation suggests that returning feral horses to grasslands in Podyjí National Park could help boost the numbers of several threatened butterfly species.

Read More Show Less

Despite huge strides in improving the lives of children since 1989, many of the world's poorest are being left behind, the United Nations children's fund UNICEF warned Monday.

Read More Show Less