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Michigan has joined the growing chorus of states and municipalities looking to take fossil fuel companies to court over the effects of climate change. Recently, Michigan’s Attorney General announced her intention to litigate against oil and gas companies. Her press release stated:

“’Our ‘Pure Michigan’ identity is under threat from the effects of climate change,’ Nessel said. Warmer temperatures are shrinking ski seasons in the UP and disrupting the wonderful blooms of Holland’s Tulip Time Festival. Severe weather events are on the rise. These impacts threaten not only our way of life but also our economy and pose long-term risks to Michigan’s thriving agribusiness. The fossil fuel industry, despite knowing about these consequences, prioritized profits over people and the environment. Pursuing this litigation will allow us to recoup our costs and hold those responsible for jeopardizing Michigan’s economic future and way of life accountable.’”

Instead of using staff at the Michigan AG’s office, the AG is looking to contract with outside attorneys and law firms to serve as Special Assistant Attorneys General throughout the litigation. These outside attorneys and law firms will be rewarded on a contingency basis, meaning that they will be paid a portion of any future awards only if the litigation is successful. This is interesting because it reflects the AG’s belief that such litigation cannot only be successful, but profitable as well. As I’ve written previously, even some investors see ESG litigation funding as a potentially successful business venture. I’ve been saying for some time that its only a matter of time until plaintiffs win big against big oil, and moves like this and Congress’s recent report and hearing, indicate that this view is gaining broader appeal.

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The Editor

Zachary Barlow is a licensed attorney. He earned his JD from the University of Mississippi and has a bachelor’s in Public Policy Leadership. He practiced law at a mid-size firm and handled a wide variety of cases. During this time he assisted in overseeing compliance of a public entity and litigated contract disputes, gaining experience both in and outside of the courtroom. Zachary currently assists the editorial team by providing research and creating content on a spectrum of ESG… View Profile