Fisherman’s Association Drops “Climate Deception” Lawsuit

In a recent development that should hardly surprise those who follow the climate litigation theater, the Pacific Coast Federation of Fishermen’s Associations (PCFFA) has withdrawn its climate lawsuit. This move, as reported by Energy in Depth and Fox News, is a telling example of the unending trend of frivolous climate lawsuits, particularly those championed by the Sher Edling law firm.

The PCFFA, under the representation of Sher Edling, filed a lawsuit alleging catastrophic impacts of climate change on their crab fishing grounds. However, when the legal battle was moved to federal court, the association abruptly dropped the case. This raises questions about the actual substance and intent behind such lawsuits. Was this lawsuit genuinely seeking justice, or was it another example of using the legal system for publicity and political posturing?

PCFFA’s lawsuit dates back to November 2018 and was among the first “climate deception” cases filed nationwide. The lawsuit — which names Chevron, ExxonMobil, BP America, Shell and ConocoPhillips, among several other oil companies as defendants — sought to hold the industry accountable for its alleged “decades-long campaigns of deception about the science of climate change and the role their products play in causing it.”

Sher Edling’s approach to climate litigation seems to be more about quantity than quality: file as many lawsuits as possible, from various angles, regardless of their actual merit. This strategy, as highlighted on the Gelbspan Files website, appears to be less about achieving legal outcomes and more about creating a narrative.

Sher Edling’s other cases, in addition to California’s case, may face a similar fate as the PCFFA case as they continue to work their way through court. One other case — filed by King County, Oregon — was dismissed in 2021.

The internal discord within the PCFFA and skepticism about the lawsuit’s validity were evident from the outset. Some members of the association themselves pointed out the irony of suing fossil fuel companies while relying on their products for their fishing operations.

How do we run our engines without oil? How do we fish without oil? Electricity? I’m a small vessel. I’m only 68 tons and my God, I don’t know how that would work.’” (emphasis added)

This contradiction undermines the lawsuit’s credibility and exposes the complexities and nuances often overlooked in climate litigation.

The PCFFA lawsuit is not an isolated case. It follows a pattern of failed climate litigations, many of which have been backed by Sher Edling. These cases often collapse under legal scrutiny or face insurmountable hurdles, suggesting that they are more about grandstanding than about addressing the alleged harms of climate change.

“’I can’t really believe that we’re spending time on this,’ Chhabria told association lawyer Katie Jones of San Francisco, rebuking her for insisting that the lawsuit does not amount to a federal class-action case.”

The Gelbspan Files website is a great resource for anyone interested in reading about these climate lawsuits. It exposes the orchestrated campaigns and political motivations behind such litigations, offering a counter-narrative to the mainstream portrayal. The website’s analysis sheds light on the broader context of these legal battles.

The withdrawal of the PCFFA lawsuit exemplifies the problematic nature of many climate litigations. The legal realm, in this context, seems to be utilized more for activism and narrative-building than for genuine legal redress.

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Tom Halla
December 21, 2023 6:07 am

It is an injustice that Sher Eding has not been ruled a vexatious litigator.

Russell Cook
Reply to  Tom Halla
December 21, 2023 9:57 am

My thanks to Charles Rotter here at WUWT for linking to my list of the ‘boilerplate copy trend of frivolous climate lawsuits by the Sher Edling law firm,’ in his introduction to the Fox News story and his subsequent mentions of my GelbspanFiles blog. Indeed, there’s much more to this situation. In the presentation concerning the initial trio of lawsuits his firm filed in 2017, Vic Sher (the notorious “Spotted Owls litigation lawyer” back in the late 1980s) handed ammo on a silver platter to the energy company defendants in his lawsuits when he flat out could not keep his details straight about the alleged ‘disinformation campaigns evidence’ he touts in his climate lawfare efforts. I covered that here, “Mistakes. These Guys Make Mistakes. Big Ones.

Ron Long
December 21, 2023 6:18 am

I think the Big Oil targets of these frivolous civil lawsuits need to file a counter suit filed against the filers, then refuse to dismiss, and beat the hell out of the phonies in court. The suits keep being filed in mass because of too much settlement as the lesser of evils. The hell with that.

Rud Istvan
December 21, 2023 6:26 am

All these failed climate lawsuits have tended to come in just two flavors:

  1. Along the lines of Oreskes Merchants of Doubt. Her argument is by analogy to tobacco RICO. The analogy fails because Exxon didn’t know because the science isn’t settled. The case here. MA and NY earlier tried against Exxon in Texas and got laughed out of court.
  2. Along the lines of public nuisance doctrine. Those have all failed because no nuisance can be shown.
Reply to  Rud Istvan
December 21, 2023 7:46 am

“The analogy fails because Exxon didn’t know because the science isn’t settled.”

The analogy fails on multiple accounts:
— climate change existed before humans walked the earth, and cultivated and smoked tobacco
— unlike smoking tobacco, there is no preponderance of scientific evidence that climate change (over at least the last 10,000 years) is net detrimental to human health
— unlike products in tobacco known to cause cancer, CO2 (i.e., from burning fossil fuels) is not identified as a product hazardous to human health, being a significant product of human body metabolism and even found in carbonated beverages humans drink.

Yes, the science wasn’t settled in the days that Exxon and other oil companies were asserted to “have known” . . . even today, many decades later, there is no preponderance of scientific evidence that atmospheric CO2 levels are, or ever were, a significant factor in establishing climates around the Earth.

Bryan A
Reply to  ToldYouSo
December 21, 2023 8:06 am

CO2 does play an important role in establishing climates around the globe though. It is essential for plant growth and thereby transpiration of H2O into atmosphere.
Without CO2 Rainforest Climates wouldn’t exist.
Without CO2 Boreal Climates wouldn’t exist.
Without CO2 Temperate Climates wouldn’t exist.
Without CO2 Oceans would have no plant life thereby no food chain
Without CO2 the Global Climate changes to a dry lifeless desert devoid of life

Reply to  Bryan A
December 21, 2023 9:20 am

Ahhh . . . but by those same measures one might say that
— carbon (C) is just as essential as CO2
— hydrogen (H) is just as essential as CO2
— oxygen (O2) is just as essential as CO2
— water (H2O) is just as essential as CO2
— trace minerals are just as essential as CO2
in “establishing climates around the globe”.

IOW, many things other than just CO2 are required for plant and animal life to exist on Earth.

Ben Vorlich
Reply to  ToldYouSo
December 21, 2023 10:23 am

What is the source of the carbon for carbon based life forms, what is the first link in the chain without which no life can exist?

Reply to  Ben Vorlich
December 21, 2023 11:11 am

Stellar astrophysicists might ague it results from supernovae of a previous generation stars.

Cosmologists might argue that it is the inevitable result of the Big Band.

Theologians might argue it was created by God.

Logicians might argue that it is illogical to assert carbon can be associated with a “first link” in a chain leading to the existence of life.

A Zen master might ask “Why do seek an answer to such a frivolous question?”

Reply to  ToldYouSo
December 21, 2023 11:53 am

Opps . . . obviously “Big Bang“, not “Big Band” . . . but still somewhat funny in context.

Also this: “life” as we know it is poorly defined . . . is a seed a living thing? Is a dormant virus a living thing? Does life on Earth represent the totality of chemical structures available for “life” to exist elsewhere in the universe? Will silicon- or quantum-device AI ever be bestowed with the title of being “alive”?

So many questions, so few intelligent answers.

Reply to  ToldYouSo
December 21, 2023 1:11 pm

I don’t know about elemental C, but from what I’ve seen, Big Bands probably do produce a lot of CO2 when they play…

Bryan A
Reply to  ToldYouSo
December 21, 2023 1:56 pm

Hmmm, Silicon based Lifeform…Si Lifeform society…Horta Culture

Reply to  Bryan A
December 22, 2023 6:52 am

+42 galactic credits!

“Horta Culture” . . . what an excellent—albeit oblique—reference!

I wonder how many WUWT readers are old enough to be fans of the TV series that “boldly” postulated such life existing.

AGW is Not Science
Reply to  Bryan A
December 21, 2023 12:12 pm

Yes, but come on. We all know that’s not what is being discussed.

We’re talking about whether rising atmospheric CO2 levels will drive the Earth’s average temperature ever higher in a self-feeding runaway loop, which there is ZERO evidence FOR and PLENTY of evidence AGAINST.

Bryan A
Reply to  AGW is Not Science
December 21, 2023 2:03 pm

This chart from AJNE.ORG if extended to today’s CO2 concentration levels would indicate a potential anomaly of 17-18°C should be induced by current CO2 levels
comment image
Clearly Temperature can drive natural CO2 levels but increasing CO2 levels aren’t proportionally driving Temperatures

Reply to  Bryan A
December 22, 2023 10:45 am

Well, this graph, going further back in time, indicates it is problematic that “global” temperature and atmospheric CO2 level are in any way interdependent.

Considering both graphs together, the implication is that any interdependence of atmospheric global temperatures and global atmospheric CO2 concentration ceases when CO2 levels are above about 400 ppm.

Ron Long
Reply to  Rud Istvan
December 21, 2023 9:09 am

Rud, EXXON knew this: in the early 1970’s their teams of geologists and geophysicists were amazed to see matching seismic profiles from around the world. They soon realized that this was (first order) due to major sea level fluctuations, and then details in several other, lesser, orders, like sediment delivery, tectonic basin modification, volcanism, etc. Thus was born Sequence Stratigraphy, the part of Geology which is basically Stratigraphy, just with the genetic explanation included. So, for the last 50 years EXXON (and those of us who adopted the Science of Sequence Stratigraphy, thank you Dr. Jon Thorson) knew that climate variation was not only very large, but repetitive and even cyclic. EXXON Knew!

Joseph Zorzin
Reply to  Ron Long
December 21, 2023 9:41 am

One reason I love hiking in the arid American west- is to look at the stratigraphy and realize all those varying rock layers represent huuuuge changes in the climate and topography of a region. I now watch several YouTube geology channels- my favorite is with a white bearded old timer. His camera work is incredibly good and his explanations can’t be beat.

Russell Cook
Reply to  Rud Istvan
December 21, 2023 10:07 am

Along the lines of Oreskes Merchants of Doubt. ….

In case anyone forgets, or is not aware of it concerning the dismissed PCFFA v Chevron lawsuit and the 15 others handled by the San Francisco law firm Sher Edling …. Naomi Oreskes is on retainer with that firm. She, along with her pals, has also filed several Friends of the Court briefs on behalf of the “ExxonKnew” lawsuit plaintiffs …. which basically mimic (rather ineptly in a couple of instances) the fatally false accusations within the lawsuits about ‘industry-led disinformation campaigns.’

December 21, 2023 6:43 am

The communists…the enemy within….sez use the legal system to take over a country….the end justifies the means….whatever means necessary….and then call it the Democratic Peoples Republic of America.

Bryan A
Reply to  antigtiff
December 21, 2023 8:09 am

Yep, Communists and Dictators have always hid behind the phrase “Peoples Democratic Republic”

Russell Cook
Reply to  antigtiff
December 21, 2023 11:01 am

FYI, Naomi Oreskes absolutely bristles at being called a communist … albeit her tale of being labeled specifically as such by Oklahoma Senator James Inhofe takes on the appearance of being a composite fabrication in order for her to brag about the label being hurled at her. Myself, I wouldn’t call her a simple communist, but instead a “communism for thee, but not for me” rich ski bunny who somehow has enough extra cash to burn that she could fly all the way from Massachusetts to Los Angeles just to talk to another ski bunny at that person’s ‘Protect Ski Bunny Snow’ Los Angeles Bradbury Building headquarters …….. when Oreskes could talked about the ‘end-of-snow’ topic via a Zoom call instead.

December 21, 2023 7:20 am

From the above article:
“The internal discord within the PCFFA and skepticism about the lawsuit’s validity were evident from the outset.”

Well, I couldn’t fathom it since this was just fishing for impacts from CAGW, a red herring if I ever saw one.

Andy Pattullo
Reply to  ToldYouSo
December 21, 2023 9:12 am

Very punny!

Reply to  ToldYouSo
December 21, 2023 9:42 am

Well, I couldn’t fathom it since this was just fishing for impacts from CAGW, a red herring if I ever saw one.

I’m not sure about that, I’ll have to Mullet over

More Soylent Green!
December 21, 2023 7:21 am

Lawsuits are an industry. It doesn’t matter the cause nor do facts matter. Who has money and who can convince a jury? Just suing and settling out of court can earn a lawyer a good living.

I’m really regretting not going to law school.

Joseph Zorzin
Reply to  More Soylent Green!
December 21, 2023 9:43 am

You might not like the work though. A friend is a lawyer. I dropped into his office once. On his desk was a stack of books 4′ high. I asked what that was about. He said it was about a single case. He said you really don’t want to be unprepared in front of some judges or they’ll rip you a new one. 🙂

December 21, 2023 8:05 am

How can they sue the oil industry for damages when the fishermen wouldn’t even exist without the oil industry?!?!

You can feed your family, maybe the neighbourhood, with a sailboat, but you’re not going to be a viable commercial fisherman without diesel power.

Can you run a diesel efficiently on fish oil?

Reply to  PCman999
December 21, 2023 9:26 am

Exxon certainly knew that you can’t power fishing boats with solar cells, wind turbines or nuclear power plants.

Sails? . . . that another matter, but Exxon offered a better solution there.

Bryan A
Reply to  ToldYouSo
December 21, 2023 2:10 pm

They could also be powered by Nuclear, Naval Subs and some Aircraft Carriers already are…Just sayin

Reply to  Bryan A
December 22, 2023 6:54 am

Fishing boats?

Curious George
December 21, 2023 8:44 am

The Pacific Coast Federation of Fishermen’s Associations .. I wonder if Willis Eschenbach has any insider information.

Reply to  Curious George
December 21, 2023 10:30 am

You can go back a few years, when the part of the season was closed in San Fran area, and northern California. The Association wanted it to stay closed. Why? It appears that it was so they could be eligible for and get the economic welfare for not working.

“In response to the large-scale impacts of domoic acid in the California Dungeness crab and rock crab fisheries during the 2015-16 fishing season, the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) allocated $25.8M in disaster relief funds to the state of California.”

When the closure was ended, and some fishers went to work, the association didn’t like it.

It appears … just appears, that the same weasels are still in charge.

Andy Pattullo
December 21, 2023 9:16 am

It seems that a more substantive lawsuit might be directed at Sher Edling and their clients for unfounded litigation. I have no legal expertise but surely there must be some safeguards in the system that could punish litigants for abuse of the legal system by repeatedly launching civil suits without sound basis simply to force policies that they prefer and with the intent of harvesting huge financial rewards form the big pocketed. If such safeguards do not exist it should be a project for the legislative branch of government in the near future.

Reply to  Andy Pattullo
December 21, 2023 2:01 pm

THere are, but they have to be applied by judges.
And who are the biggest contributors to judges re-election coffers?

Solar Mutant Ninjaneer
December 21, 2023 9:28 am

I misread the title at first thinking that the “Climate Deception” lawsuit was against NOAA, NASA, or the IPCC for climate deception, which actually make sense. Then it got me thinking, maybe going on the offense legally might be a good way to counter this madness? I think there is plenty of evidence to make a strong RICO case against a wide range organizations and individuals. Just a thought?

December 21, 2023 10:17 am

“Sher Edling’s other cases, in addition to California’s case, may face a similar fate as the PCFFA case as they continue to work their way through court. One other case — filed by King County, Oregon — was dismissed in 2021.”

There is no King County, Oregon. Although King County was created out of the Oregon Territory a long time ago, it is not in Oregon … it is not even close to Oregon.

Russell Cook
Reply to  DonM
December 21, 2023 5:58 pm

Good catch on the error in the Fox News article, I’ll try to alert the reporter via email, but my experience over the years is that Fox News folks do not look at their public email inbox. It’s King County in Washington state, and that particular King County v. BP, Chevron, ExxonMobil, Royal Dutch and ConocoPhillips was definitely still self-dismissed back at the end of Sept 2021, official U.S. District Court, Western District of Washington at Seattle court filing here.

Russell Cook
Reply to  Russell Cook
December 22, 2023 1:14 pm

I submitted a “Request a correction or clarification to a story” ticket also with Fox News last night over the location error. As of midday today, 12/22/23, the story has been corrected.

AGW is Not Science
December 21, 2023 10:59 am

The big question should be WHAT HARM?!

I believe it was Willis that posted a list right from the pages of the IPCC’s latest report (the scientific reports that supposedly form its basis but are clearly ignored as their “narrative” becomes ever more alarmist), which list was about as long as my sleeve, of all the types of “bad weather” or bad “weather related” events that ARE NOT SHOWING ANY EVIDENCE OF GETTING WORSE because of so-called “climate change.”

It would be great to have a quick link to that list, by the way!


I doubt that a standard of proof could be met for ANY of the three that would be admissible as FACT for the purposes of trial, much less all three!

And for anyone who failed to establish all three, I’d hit them with the biggest fine I could under law for malicious prosecution.

Reply to  AGW is Not Science
December 21, 2023 2:22 pm

The International Energy Agency said human CO2 emissions dropped 6% in 2020, but if you look at the graph there is no change in the rate of growth of CO2 in the atmosphere.

Here is also a link to a new small preprint that says that atmospheric CO2 follows temperature changes, not leads them.

December 21, 2023 2:08 pm

CO2 follows temperature, not leads it.
Global temperatures, CO2 concentrations and oceansAllan T. Emrén
Published Online:30 Jun 2023

During the past 170 years, temperatures and atmospheric CO2 concentrations have increased. Published data on global temperature, CO2 data, and data on sea ice in the Arctic have been investigated. It is seen that support for human activities causing the observed increases is weak. It is found that the rate of change in CO2 concentration is controlled by global temperature rather than vice versa. To stop the growing concentration, the temperature has first to be decreased by about 1.4 K. This makes it questionable if attempts by humans to modify the global temperature or the concentration of CO2 in the atmosphere will give any noticeable result. A correlation is found between seasonal variations in CO2 concentrations and Arctic sea ice quantities. The present increase in CO2 concentration and temperature is similar to one 55 million years ago, indicating that the Earth passed a ‘tipping point’ around 1750.

ResearcgGate Preprint:

December 21, 2023 2:38 pm

This is a clear abuse of our justice system. The simplest way to end this kind of abuse is to say fine you are free to sue the fossil fuel companies but in light of the fact that you are accusing them of deception and most likely criminal activity it is important that you not be a part of it. No more fossil fuels for PCFFA members until the case is settled.

Reply to  Bob
December 22, 2023 6:34 am

From the head post, it sounds like at least some of the PCFFA members know exactly how bad of an idea that would be.

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