A federal court in Virginia has ruled that an environmental group lacks standing to challenge the Department of Defense’s (DOD’s) procurement of fuel from Canadian oil sands. Sierra Club v. U.S. Def. Energy Support Ctr., No. 11-41 (E.D. Va. 7/29/11). The Sierra Club argued that DOD’s procurement violated a congressional ban on procurement of carbon-intensive, alternate fuels under the 2007 Energy Independence and Security Act, which bars federal agencies from procuring synthetic and alternative fuels that have a larger “life-cycle” carbon footprint than conventional fuel. Plaintiffs also argued that the purchase posed a threat to its members by exacerbating the effects of global climate change.
The court dismissed the complaint, ruling that plaintiff failed to establish “a causal connection between their alleged injuries” and DOD’s continued procurement of Canadian oil sands crude given that climate change is a global problem. The court also said that “[t]he alleged injuries . . . rely on an attenuated and speculative causal chain” and “are not fairly traceable” to DOD’s procurement of the fuel.