This section contains court cases relating to climate change – including both project-level litigation and litigation against metropolitan transportation plans and programs. Climate change litigation is relatively new and still evolving, and is based on federal law as well as state law.
At the project level, several court cases have considered whether and how National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) documents should address climate change – including lawsuits alleging (a) inadequate consideration of greenhouse gas effects of transportation project alternatives, and (b) inadequate consideration of climate change impacts on projects (i.e., climate change adaptation).
Although the federal NEPA statute and regulations do not specify that climate change must be considered, plaintiffs have sued project sponsors and the U.S. DOT on climate change matters based on the broad language of the NEPA statute and regulations, which call for considering environmental impacts. In 2010, the Council on Environmental Quality issued draft guidance on considering climate change in the NEPA process, but the guidance had not been finalized as of May 2012.
In addition to project litigation, plaintiffs also have challenged plans and programs adopted by Metropolitan Planning Organizations (MPOs) in California and Washington state, on grounds that the plans and programs do not comply with state laws on climate change.
Links to project-level lawsuits, as well as MPO-level lawsuits are included in the Case Law topic in this section.