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Republicans fire back at attorney general’s environmental lawsuit

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(The Center Square) – Michigan Senate Republicans universally signed a letter opposing Attorney General Dana Nessel after she threatened to sue the fossil fuel industry.

Nessel issued a statement earlier this month seeking assistant attorneys to litigate on behalf of the state, saying the industry has knowingly caused the state harm. In response, the senate Republicans described the lawsuit as a mistake.

“This frivolous and dangerous lawsuit idea is a waste of taxpayer dollars, an abuse of power and an illustration of the attorney general’s complete lack of understanding of her role in state government,” said Sen. Joseph Bellino, R-Monroe. “It also shows that the attorney general either doesn’t know or doesn’t care about the impact of this lawsuit on the people of Michigan. There is hardly any part of our lives that doesn’t rely, in part, on the contributions of the oil and gas industries.”

The letter says legal action would set a “dangerous precedent … for advancing political agendas or targeting political adversaries.”

Nessel says instead that oil and gas have caused harmful effects not just toward the environment, but also toward Michigan industry and tourism.

“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.”

In prior years, California, New Jersey, Connecticut, Minnesota and Rhode Island have all attempted to sue the oil and gas industry for its effects on the environment.

The Office of the Attorney General plans to give contracts to individuals and law firms based on experience in constitutional, statutory and tort law in the environmental sector. Once decided on through blind bidding, the department will announce the award on the state website and give compensation on a contingency fee basis.

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