Person

David Bookbinder

Occupation:

Attorney

Chief Counsel, Niskanen Center

Former Chief Climate Counsel, Sierra Club

David Bookbinder is an attorney and chief counsel to the Niskanen Center, a center-left and nominally libertarian think tank. Prior to that, Bookbinder was chief climate counsel to the Sierra Club, where he managed the group’s involvement in the 2007 U.S. Supreme Court case Massachusetts v. EPA, which established the Environmental Protection Agency’s authority to regulate greenhouse gas emissions. Additionally, Bookbinder claims he “led Sierra Club’s work on judicial nominations, including the filibusters” against the George W. Bush administration’s judicial appointments between 2003 and 2006. [1]

Early Career

After graduating from Princeton University and the University of Chicago Law School, Bookbinder entered the legal profession in the private sector. Starting at Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton, and Garrison focusing on white collar crime, Bookbinder gradually shifted his focus towards environmentalist litigation against the government and energy companies. [2]

Sierra Club

Bookbinder was hired as the chief climate counsel for the Sierra Club and has also worked to represent a collection environmentalist cases for increased regulation in California “which effectively imposed a moratorium on new coal-fired power plants.” [3] His principal matter of concern during his time at the Sierra Club was working to assist Massachusetts in Massachusetts v. EPA, a Supreme Court case which ruled that the EPA could not delay its decisions regarding climate change until it had better information, and that it must make a policy about carbon emissions’ effect on climate change. The Court did so because it found the Clean Air Act allowed the EPA to regulate any emissions that posed a significant threat to the country as a whole.

Before this case, precedent indicated that the Clean Air Act only allowed the EPA to regulate emissions according to their effect on the lower atmosphere, not based on their potential or unquantified contributions to climate change. The court declared that emissions contributed to substantially to climate change which meant that they constituted an endangerment to the country, and that the EPA’s failure to regulate had caused harm to the state of Massachusetts. After this case the EPA was given the power to regulate almost any and all emissions in the United States.

ExxonMobil and Suncor Climate Change Lawsuit

In 2018, Bookbinder filed a lawsuit against the energy companies ExxonMobil and Suncor alleging “costs sustained by Colorado local governments in fighting wildfires and other effects of climate change.” [4] According to an April 17, 2018 post by Bookbinder and Niskanen Center president Jerry Taylor, the Center represents the plaintiffs in the suit pro bono. [5]

Niskanen Center

In 2018, Bookbinder filed a lawsuit against the energy companies ExxonMobil and Suncor alleging “costs sustained by Colorado local governments in fighting wildfires and other effects of climate change.” [6] According to an April 17, 2018 post by Bookbinder and Niskanen Center president Jerry Taylor, the Center represents the plaintiffs in the suit pro bono. [7] Taylor and Bookbinder claim that they are working pro-bono “because we take property rights and the rule of law seriously.”

Bookbinder also went on record claiming that “this is property rights work, this is not climate work.” [8] Bookbinder and Taylor make no mention of the Niskanen Center’s funding from environmentalist groups. [9]

Element VI Consulting

Bookbinder was a founding partner at Element VI Consulting, “where he offered advice and insights to organizations interested in U.S. climate policy.” [10] Element VI Consulting has done work for the Niskanen Center, receiving $151,691 for consulting services in 2015, making it the Center’s largest listed independent contractor. [11]

In 2015, Bookbinder co-authored three pieces for Niskanen with his partner at Element VI, attended a climate change conference hosted by Cato Institute, and testified before the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee where he asked that the Obama administration describe how it planned to meet the emissions reduction quota in the Paris Climate Accords. [12] [13]

References

  1. David Bookbinder. Niskanen Center. May 20, 2019. https://niskanencenter.org/blog/staff/david-bookbinder/ ^
  2. David Bookbinder. Niskanen Center. May 20, 2019. https://niskanencenter.org/blog/staff/david-bookbinder/ ^
  3. David Bookbinder. Niskanen Center. May 20, 2019. https://niskanencenter.org/blog/staff/david-bookbinder/ ^
  4. James Osborne. “Inside Exxon Mobil’s fight to stop climate change litigation in its tracks.” Houston Chronicle. June 14, 2018. Accessed May 20, 2019. https://www.houstonchronicle.com/business/energy/article/Inside-Exxon-Mobil-s-fight-to-stop-climate-12993891.php ^
  5. Jerry Taylor, David Bookbinder. “OIL COMPANIES SHOULD BE HELD ACCOUNTABLE FOR CLIMATE CHANGE.” April 17, 2018. Accessed May 20, 2019. https://niskanencenter.org/blog/oil-companies-should-be-held-accountable-for-climate-change/ ^
  6. James Osborne. “Inside Exxon Mobil’s fight to stop climate change litigation in its tracks.” Houston Chronicle. June 14, 2018. Accessed May 20, 2019. https://www.houstonchronicle.com/business/energy/article/Inside-Exxon-Mobil-s-fight-to-stop-climate-12993891.php ^
  7. Jerry Taylor, David Bookbinder. “OIL COMPANIES SHOULD BE HELD ACCOUNTABLE FOR CLIMATE CHANGE.” April 17, 2018. Accessed May 20, 2019. https://niskanencenter.org/blog/oil-companies-should-be-held-accountable-for-climate-change/ ^
  8. Connoly, Elena. “Property Rights Cited In Niskanen’s Lawsuit Participation, Not Climate Policy.” Western Wire. April 24, 2018. Accessed May 28, 2019. http://westernwire.net/property-rights-cited-in-niskanens-lawsuit-participation-not-climate-policy/. ^
  9. Ludwig, Hayden. “The Niskanen Center: Climate Change Chameleons.” Capital Research Center. Accessed May 29, 2019. https://capitalresearch.org/article/the-niskanen-center-climate-change-chameleons/. ^
  10. Niskanen Center. “PRESS RELEASE: NISKANEN CENTER WELCOMES DAVID BOOKBINDER AS CHIEF COUNSEL.” Niskanen Center. February 16, 2017. Accessed May 28, 2019. https://niskanencenter.org/blog/press-release-niskanen-center-welcomes-david-bookbinder-chief-counsel/. ^
  11. Return of Organization Exempt from Income Tax (Form 990). Niskanen Center. 2015. Part VII, Section B. ^
  12. “Preparing for Paris: What to Expect from the U.N.’s 2015 Climate Change Conference.” Cato Institute. September 03, 2015. Accessed May 28, 2019. https://www.cato.org/events/preparing-paris-what-expect-uns-2015-climate-change-conference. ^
  13. Bookbinder, David. “Testimony of David Bookbinder Senate Environment and …” July 8, 2015. Accessed May 28, 2019. https://www.epw.senate.gov/public/_cache/files/96e1aded-05af-485a-9e23-544f82e0f4bc/bookbinder.pdf. ^

Connected Organizations

  1. Niskanen Center (Non-profit)
    Chief Counsel
  2. Sierra Club (Non-profit)
    Former Chief Climate Counsel
  See an error? Let us know!