CBS News Makes No Mention That One “Neutral” Expert Interviewed is Involved in Various Climate-Related Lawsuits Against Oil Companies

Ann E. Carlson, Shirley Shapiro Professor of Environmental Law, Faculty Co-Director, Emmett Institute on Climate Change and the Environment speaking at the UCLA School of Law in September, 2016. Photo credit: UCLA School of Law, YouTube.

NEW YORK – CBS News apparently neglected to mention in a report Sunday about a climate crusade that one of the neutral experts the reporters interviewed is actually involved in various climate-related lawsuits against oil companies in California.

UCLA law professor Ann Carlson was used in a 60 Minutes report as an expert observing the validity of a climate lawsuit holding the U.S. government responsible for the oil industry’s alleged contributions to global warming. CBS’ Steve Kroft failed to mention in his report on the issue Carlson’s history of working on climate litigation holding oil companies responsible for climate change.

Kroft instead painted her as a neutral observer with knowledge about the ins-and-outs related to how such a case might effect the U.S. Constitution.  “There’s no constitutional provision that says that the environment should be protected,” said Carlson, an attorney and faculty director of the Emmett Institute on Climate Change and the Environment at the University of California, Los Angeles.

The twenty-one young people involved in the case — Juliana v. United States — are seeking a court order requiring the federal government to implement an “enforceable national remedial plan” phasing out carbon emissions in an effort to stabilize the climate and protect the environment. The case has survived several attempts by the government to torpedo the case after it was originally filed in 2015.

“I think that Judge Aiken actually does a very good job of saying:  ‘it’s not radical to ask the government to protect the health, the lives and property of this current generation,” she said when Kroft asked about U.S. Judge Ann Aiken’s claims in November 2016 that a clean environment is “fundamental to a free and ordered society.” The report elevated her skepticism about the child’s suit.

“Ann Carlson and the legal community still think it’s a long shot,” Kroft said about the possibility that the plaintiffs in the case will come away with a victory, adding: “But she says she’s been wrong about this case every step of the way.” Carlson consults Sher Edling, a San Francisco-based law firm working to file climate liability lawsuits across the country. None of this was mentioned during the Sunday report.

She has made supportive comments about the lawsuits in the past. “I think these lawsuits are great, and I think they are interesting. I think they could provide real benefits to some of the jurisdictions, but they don’t really get at the mitigation of emissions,” Carlson said in 2018 during the 27th Annual Environmental Law Conference at Yosemite.

The plaintiffs — young people in between the ages of 11 and 22 — asked the court to issue an injunction to prevent the government from issuing oil extraction licenses before March, when the Trump administration plans to offer nearly 80 million acres of unleased areas off the Gulf of Mexico.

Their case has been held up for months. The U.S. Supreme Court in November 2018 decided not to block the lawsuit — the move came less than two weeks after Chief Justice John Roberts granted the government a stay in October 2018.  The court’s order said the government should seek relief before the 9th Circuit.

CBS News did not respond to The Daily Caller News Foundation’s request for comment.

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