News, Culture and NPR for Central & Northern Michigan
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations
91.7FM Alpena and WCML-TV Channel 6 Alpena are off the air. Click here to learn more.

Mich. House GOP blasts Nessel plan to sue oil and gas industry

An attorney of one of the defendants argued that Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel's comment that the defendants were "brainwashed" into thinking former President Donald Trump won the 2020 election undermines the state's case. In this WCMU file photo, Nessel attended the Griffin Forum: Shaping LGBTQ+ Policies in Michigan on the campus of Central Michigan University on Tuesday, Oct. 3, 2023.
Rick Brewer
WCMU File Photo
Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel at the Griffin Forum: Shaping LGBTQ+ Policies in Michigan on the campus of Central Michigan University on Tuesday, Oct. 3, 2023.

Republicans are pushing back against Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel’s plan to deputize private practice attorneys to pursue climate lawsuits. The deadline is Wednesday for law firms to submit proposals.

The Democratic attorney general said it’s a novel but perfectly legal way to employ private practice lawyers to hold oil and gas companies accountable for fossil fuels’ harm to the environment.

The specific harms Nessel alleges include massive storms and other drastic weather events related to climate change and economic damage such as shortened ski seasons.

“The fossil fuel industry, despite knowing about these consequences, prioritized profits over people and the environment,” Nessel said in a statement earlier this month “Pursuing this litigation will allow us to recoup our costs and hold those responsible for jeopardizing Michigan’s economic future and way of life accountable.”

But Republicans in the Legislature blasted the Attorney General for pursuing “a political agenda” unmoored from legal principles and going through the private sector instead of using state attorneys.

“It’s certainly a new strategy in Dana Nessel’s attempts to harass industries she doesn’t like, to try to find private parties to go after other private parties that she doesn’t hold in high regard,” said Michigan House Republican spokesperson Jeremiah Ward. “It’s political prosecution and she’s just trying to recruit other people to help her do it.”

Ward said there is little Republicans can do since the Legislature is controlled by Democrats.

The attorney general’s website says proposals will be judged through a blind-bidding process that will guarantee anonymity through the selection process. Contracts will be awarded based on “qualifications, experience, abilities, capacity, and cost-effectiveness.” Attorneys will be compensated with a contingency fee based on a share of any court judgement or settlement.

Rick Pluta is Senior Capitol Correspondent for the Michigan Public Radio Network.
Related Content