Policy ForumCLIMATE POLICY

Science in litigation, the third branch of U.S. climate policy

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Science  08 Sep 2017:
Vol. 357, Issue 6355, pp. 979-980
DOI: 10.1126/science.aao0412

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Summary

Whereas the executive and legislative branches are the principal repositories of policy-making authority in the United States, decisions in the judicial branch have and promise to continue having an influence on activities responsible for greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, energy development, and a wide range of other government policy. The courts are a central avenue for development of climate-related policy in the United States. Yet we know few details about whether and how climate science plays a role in such judicial responses. We suggest that the role of science is changing, that novel legal theories are emerging, and that litigation is likely to continue to increase.