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Court tosses Katrina-greenhouse gas case

GULFPORT — A federal appeals court has dismissed an appeal of lawsuit that alleged that greenhouse gas emissions from energy and chemical companies contributed to global warming, caused sea levels to rise and added to the intensity of Hurricane Katrina.

The 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled May 28 that it didn’t have a quorum — or majority — of judges available to hear the appeal after many of them recused themselves.

The lawsuit was filed by the landowners in U.S. District Court in Gulfport in Sept. 2005, about a month after Katrina ravaged the Gulf Coast. U.S. District Judge Louis Guirola Jr. dismissed the lawsuit in 2007.

A three-judge panel of the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals last October reinstated the lawsuit. The full 5th Circuit had agreed in February to hear the companies’ appeal from the panel decision.

In its order, the court said the landowners and the companies could petition the U.S. Supreme Court to hear the case.

The three-panel had said the landowners had shown they had suffered an injury that could be traced back to the energy and chemical companies. The landowners had sought compensatory and punitive damages against 32 companies and the Tennessee Valley Authority.

The companies have argued that global warming was not attributable only to them but resulted from the emissions of greenhouse gases from millions of sources dating back to the Industrial Revolution.

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