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Nine Cities And Counties Suing Big Oil Over Climate Change

by Countable | 1.24.18

What’s the story?

Since the summer of 2017 a growing list of cities and counties are filing lawsuits against oil companies over climate change. The suits allege that the companies knowingly engaged in business that was detrimental to each localities economy, infrastructure and environment, violating state "nuisance laws". Some seek unspecified damages, some seek for the companies to fund climate change mitigation efforts.

Most are seeking to use the verifiable rise in sea level, which is attributed to global warming, to support their cases.

Here’s the current list of plaintiffs:

San Francisco, CA

Oakland, CA

Richmond, CA

Marin County, CA

San Mateo County, CA

Imperial Beach, CA

Santa Cruz (city), CA

Santa Cruz County, CA

New York, NY

Supporters are calling the lawsuits the next big strategy in combating climate change, mirroring prior tactics used against Big Tobacco, but critics question the validity of the plaintiffs legal claims. Energy attorney Scott Segal told the Washington Post the suits were unlikely to succeed because any one company could not be pinned with specific causation:

"Commentators have suggested that nuisance law, a relative backwater in property law, is based upon conditions in which there are distinct producers and recipients of pollution. However, in the case of global climate change, a molecule of carbon is literally around the world in seven days. The requisite causation needed for nuisance suits is missing and unprovable."

What do you think?

Do you support these suits or not? Do you think they’re a potentially effective way to hold the oil and gas industry accountable for their part in advancing global climate change, or do you think the suits are misguided?

Tell us in the comments what you think, then use the Take Action button to tell your reps!

— Asha Sanaker

(Photo Credit: Wikimedia / Creative Commons )


Written by Countable

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