Comments and Legal Briefs

The Sabin Center frequently engages with federal, state and local agencies by submitting comment letters urging decision-makers to account for the causes and effects of climate change when deciding whether and how to proceed with proposed regulations, guidance documents, and projects undergoing environmental reviews.  On some occasions, we also engage directly with courts by submitting amicus briefs in cases involving climate change law and policy.

This page contains downloadable copies of all of the Sabin Center’s comment letters and legal briefs. These include:


Legal Briefs and Submissions

Amicus Brief in support of appeal in New York City v. BP p.l.c. by Michael Burger and Jennifer Danis (November 2018)  

The Sabin Center, together with the Columbia Environmental Law Clinic, submitted an amicus brief on behalf of a local government coalition in New York City’s lawsuit against fossil fuel companies seeking compensation for climate change-related harms and the costs of adaptation. The coalition members include the National League of Cities, the U.S. Conference of Mayors, and the International Municipal Lawyers Association.

Local Government Motion for Leave to Participate as Amici Curiae in California v. EPA by Michael Burger, Jessica Wentz, and Dena Adler, and related Press Release (September 2018)

The Sabin Center submitted a motion on behalf of a local government coalition for leave to participate as “amici curiae” (friends of the court) in the lawsuit challenging the Trump Administration’s decision to revisit the greenhouse gas emission and fuel economy standards established for light-duty vehicles. The coalition members include the U.S. Conference of Mayors (USCM), the National League of Cities (NLC), and sixteen individual cities and counties.

Joint Summary of the Amicus Curiae In Re: National Inquiry on the Impact of Climate Change on the Human Rights of the Filipino People , related Press Release (March 2018)

This brief consolidates and summarizes the key messages and arguments contained in the amicus curiae briefs submitted by legal scholars, experts, and human rights practitioners  in support of the petitioners in the Philippines carbon majors case. Michael Burger and Jessica Wentz made contributions based on the amicus brief they submitted in 2016.

Complaint Challenging Scott Pruitt’s Science Advisory Committee Directive, Columbia Environmental Law Clinic and Earth Justice, related Press Release (December 2017)

In this case, executive director Michael Burger is working with Columbia Environmental Law Clinic as a volunteer attorney to represent independent scientists Robyn Wilson and Joseph Arvai. This lawsuit challenges Scott Pruitt’s directive barring highly qualified, independent scientists from EPA’s science advisory boards.

Amicus Brief on Carbon Capture and Storage Technologies, Michael Burger and Jessica Wentz, and related Press Release (December 2016)

This amicus brief was written on behalf of eleven carbon capture and storage (“CCS”) experts in support of EPA’s emission standard for new coal-fired power plants. The standard is based on the CO2 emission reductions that can be achieved through the implementation of partial CCS, and one of the central issues in the case is whether CCS technologies are adequately demonstrated and available for installation at coal-fired power plants. The brief contains ample evidence corroborating EPA’s determination that these technologies are an adequately demonstrated system of emissions reduction for new coal-fired power plants.

Submission to Philippines Carbon Majors Investigation by Michael Burger and Jessica Wentz (December 2016)

This is a submission to the Philippines Commission on Human Rights in support of a petition submitted by Greenpeace Southeast Asia and the Philippine Rural Reconstruction Movement requesting an investigation into the responsibility of the “Carbon Majors” for human rights violations resulting from the impacts of climate change. The submission outlines the various ways in which climate change interferes with the enjoyment of human rights in the Philippines and around the world, and explains why the private companies can and should be held accountable for human rights violations arising from their contribution to climate change.

Clean Power Plan Amicus Brief by Michael Burger and Justin Gundlach, and related Press Release (April 2016)

More than 50 city and county governments from 28 states, together with The U.S. Conference of Mayors (USCM), the National League of Cities (NLC), and the mayors of Dallas, Knoxville, and Orlando have signed an amicus brief explaining why the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Clean Power Plan is critical to the safety and economic security of local communities across the United States. The brief was authored by the Sabin Center for Climate Change Law at Columbia Law School.

See also: Amicus Motion on Behalf of Cities in Support of EPA’s Clean Power Plan by Michael Burger and Justin Gundlach, December 2015


Comments on Guidance Documents and Regulations


Comments on Environmental Review Documents

Comments on Fossil Fuel Extraction and Transport Proposals

Comments on Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) Terminals

Comments on Other Projects


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