OPINION: Action over litigation

Gail Toth//February 27, 2023

OPINION: Action over litigation

Gail Toth//February 27, 2023

New Jersey’s legal crusade against the energy sector won’t solve climate change, but it will have far reaching consequences for the supply chain and – paradoxically – may undermine attempts to reduce carbon emissions.

The state has filed a lawsuit against five major energy companies and a petroleum trade association over carbon emissions. New Jersey is just the latest in a long line of states, counties, and cities to file such a lawsuit. These legal fights have dragged on for years, with backlogged courts wasting precious resources on back-and-forth litigation and a seemingly endless appeals process. Meanwhile, the energy companies are spending money on defense and taking on unnecessary risk. This means higher fuel prices for trucking companies and consumers, and inflated costs for hauling and delivering goods.

Lawsuits won’t just raise the price of fuel; they’ll also reduce investment in more energy- and emission-efficient solutions. A crucial piece for solving the climate change puzzle is ensuring resources are dedicated to innovation and the next generation of energy technologies.

Attorney General Matt Platkin
Attorney General Matt Platkin, flanked by New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection Commissioner Shawn LaTourette and acting Division of Consumer Affairs Director Cari Fais, outlines the claims New Jersey is making against several major oil companies in October 2022.

President Biden is pushing for American energy independence by incentivizing increased fuel production. Why then is the Garden State suing the companies for having sold these necessary products in the first place?

Our elected officials should view the leading fuel producers as partners – not adversaries. Energy companies are already reducing emissions by embracing carbon capture technology, fixing methane leaks, and expanding renewable energy portfolios. Expensive and time-consuming lawsuits only hold the industry back as companies look to make these vital changes.

We need real action, not lawsuits. As executive director of the New Jersey Motor Truck Association, I know first-hand how much work needs to be done to repair and modernize New Jersey’s infrastructure in preparation for future weather events. The state should expedite using the billions of dollars that Congress allocated for resiliency projects and other improvements in the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law.

Fixing our crumbling roads and bridges will do far more than any lawsuit ever could to make life easier for both truckers and consumers. Infrastructure improvements will bring carbon emissions down by reducing the amount of time cars, trucks, and buses spend idling in traffic, increasing efficiency in the supply chain and keeping the economy moving.

We can do better. Instead of fighting the industry in the courts, New Jersey should seek to partner with energy companies, other states, and the federal government. In doing so, we can foster technological innovation that will reduce carbon emissions while improving infrastructure to protect our communities and the economy from the effects of extreme weather events.

Gail Toth is executive director of the New Jersey Motor Truck Association.