Climate change is something that can rile up almost anyone on both sides of the issue. We have seen the peak winter arctic ice at its lowest levels in history this past winter. The planet has just suffered through its warmest winter in history. The GOP is still arguing that climate change is a hoax, and are looking to defang the EPA from doing its job in protecting our air and water.
Maybe it is time to stop talking about pollution being the cause of climate change, and refocus it back to pollution being a health hazard instead. Maybe, if politicians are bombarded with complaints from constituents that pollution from coal-burning electric plants, or other manufacturing is affecting their health, they might listen. But then again, I doubt that will happen either.
There are two cases pending in two different courts that exemplify this to a tee. Two lawyers Brendan and Nessa Coppinger apparently live in a row house in Washington, D.C. They have sued their neighbor for smoking in his own house. That is right, they have sued their neighbor for smoking in his own house.
“This is a health concern,” Nessa Coppinger, who is 38 and pregnant with her second child, told the Washington Post. “We don’t smoke. We don’t allow smoking in our home. We have smoke in our house all the time.”. In the law suit they are seeking damages in the amount of $500,000
D.C. Superior Court Judge Ronna Lee Beck ordered that all smoking, of all substances, be banned in the neighbor’s home until the lawsuit is resolved. Of course, this whole mess raises intriguing questions about a person’s right to smoke in his own house. Or, for that matter what rights a homeowner really has when it comes to his own property.
Now, this may all seem like something reasonable. Except for one thing. Records indicate that Nessa Coppinger, an “environmental lawyer” — often litigates against the environment, including cases in which she’s defended industry clients against people besieged by pollution.
Suncoke Energy, Inc. is being sued by four Ohioans. The plaintiffs claim that a local metallurgical coke plant, operated by a subsidiary of the billion dollar corporation, “emitted and released blue/gray Noxious and Hazardous Substances-containing clouds or haze,” which poisoned their water, soil and, yes, air, with just about everything one might consider to be a health concern: “sludge-like deposits, strong odors, particulates, lead, mercury, arsenic, chromium, creosote, coal-tar pitch, coal-tar pitch volatiles, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (e.g., benzo(a) pyrene and chrysene) (“PAHs”), sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxide emissions, dioxins, volatile organic compounds (“VOCs”), hydrochloric acid (“HCL”), volatiles, carbon monoxide, benzene, flue gas, chemical clouds and haze, other solid and hazardous wastes, other hazardous substances and pollutants, and mixtures containing such substances.”
The lawyer defending the billion dollar giant is none other than Nessa Coppinger. The plaintiffs reported experiencing unpleasant odors infiltrating their properties, claimed to suffer respiratory symptoms from the smoke and said they “are concerned and apprehensive about risks to their and their family members’ health from their past and ongoing exposure to said substances.” No court order has prohibited the plant from spewing the pollutants, as alleged, onto its neighbors’ property. This lawsuit has been ongoing for five years.
So we have a lawyer who is seeking $500,000 from a neighbor because his smoking in his own house is seeping into her house causing “second-hand smoke” issues defending a company who is polluting its neighbors with even more toxic pollutants. The biggest difference is that the “smoker” is smoking within his own house. The company polluting its neighbors are not polluting inside their own facility. Rather they are openly polluting the entire area.
If this sounds rather familiar, remember the Exxon CEO who, last year, joined an anti-fracking lawsuit after nearby drilling activity threatened to lower his own property values. The same Exxon CEO who claims that fracking is perfectly safe and won’t cause harm to the environment or property values.
I firmly believe that these cases point out the simple fact that the fight to protect polluters has nothing to do with climate change or anything like it. It is to defend the billion dollar companies that are killing our planet and us. But, as long as it happens to someone else, it is okay. Just keep it from our neighborhood.
That is why the GOP will continue its stupidity on climate change and its attack on science and the EPA.