California Cities Sue Oil Companies over Climate Change

Signal Hill in the early 1940s. Since the early 1900s, oil companies were welcomed with open arms in Calif., and not considered a public nuisance.

City attorneys in San Francisco and Oakland, California, sued five oil companies in two coordinated lawsuits on Tuesday, arguing that the courts should hold these companies responsible for climate change, and force them to financially compensate the cities for harm the plaintiffs claim those companies are causing to the planet’s environment.

The two cities are suing five of the top petroleum companies from around the world: BP, Chevron, ConocoPhillips, Exxon Mobile, and Royal Dutch Shell. These local municipalities are suing them under California law for being a public nuisance.

The lawsuits use virtually identical language, like accusing the oil companies with language such as, “For decades, Defendants have known that their fossil fuels pose risks of ‘severe’ and ‘catastrophic’ impacts on the global climate through the works and warnings of their own scientists or through their trade association.”

The cities’ complaints impugn the worst possible motives to the oil companies, comparing their actions to a sustained “propaganda campaign to deceive the public” to encourage “fuel consumption at levels that (as Defendants knew) [were] certain to severely harm the public.”

The lawsuits are demanding money from the companies on a scale to offset all of the effects of climate change in those cities. While the lawsuit does not provide specific amounts, the plaintiffs could advance theories that would claim that those numbers are in the billions of dollars.

By bringing these claims in the county courts in San Francisco and Alameda, the cities’ attorneys are setting them on a legal course where the justices of the California Supreme Court—a reliably liberal court—would ultimately decide the financial liability of the oil companies.

One immediate step the oil companies could take is to remove these lawsuits to federal court. They could invoke a federal district court’s “diversity jurisdiction” under 28 U.S.C. § 1332 because the plaintiffs are from different states or nations than all of the defendants and the amount being sued for exceeds $75,000.

Such a move would take any appeals to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit where critics would fear the chances of a leftwing outcome, but would also preserve the option that the final word on this case would ultimately come from the U.S. Supreme Court instead of the California Supreme Court.

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Comments (12)

  • Avatar

    Spurwing Plover

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    The coruption and vice of the Bay Area the stink and the contamination of modern enviromentalism rears its ugly head and the greed to city officials wanting to rake in a little extra ill gotten dough by using the lie of Global Warming/Climate Change I was to San Ftancisco once but now i would never ever set my foot in either of the two places ever again

    Reply

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      Sonnyhill

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      Your morning dumps are prodigious and regular.

      Reply

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    keith

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    I would suggest these oil companies withdraw from supplying any of their products in that State, and see how long it survives with no petro chemical products.

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      John

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      Now, THATS a good idea!

      Reply

  • Avatar

    Sonnyhill

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    California should run on biofuels, like Brazil. If Big Oil boycotted California, someone would exploit the void. China and California will always have Paris.

    Reply

  • Avatar

    Spurwing Plover

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    There’s a episode of the cartoon series TOM SLICK where him and his two woman are misdirected to California the border sign reads CALIFORNIA PLEASE KEEP OUR STATE GREEN AND GOLDEN JUST BRING MONEY

    Reply

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    Amber

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    I agree with Keith’s suggestion . These companies sell products that are responsible for a massive increase In the standard of living ,quality of life and arguably the reason the USA is the greatest nation on earth . There is always room for improvement
    but without fossil fuels California would crash . But maybe that’s the point of the Antifa /Liberals who are running California into insolvency .
    The oil and gas companies would just need to have some supply issues for a few weeks and the public would put an end to the from
    politicians and “renewable ” con artists pushing their own agenda .
    Look California is bankrupt and the politicians job security is at risk if they don’t find new money to extend the music till the next suckers take over . Brown will take a long walk on a beach
    days before the whole thing goes down and it’s right around the corner . When the place collapse no one is going to care what EXXon told it’s shareholders and people ‘s biggest concern will be their next meal .

    Reply

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    David Lewis

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    These suits are predatory and the tactic has been tried before. When they couldn’t get the gun control passed they wanted, liberal cities started suing gun manufactures for gun violence. Conceptually, this made as much sense as suing breweries for deaths caused by drunk driving. The goal of these suits was to bankrupt the gun manufactures. Fortunately Congress passed a law forbidding such suits.

    Liberals believe that they are always right and the concept that laws they want are not passed because they shouldn’t be passed is beyond their comprehension. For this reason they resort to law suits.

    It is easy to show that disastrous man made climate change isn’t happening. It is impossible to show that the one degree increase since the beginning of the industrial revolution is harming anyone. However, in a California Court only politics would count. Perhaps Congress needs to pass another law.

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    Лазо

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    Solution to it all: let these cities lead by example: Fossil-free cities! If it’s such a threat, they need to act today and pull the plug on petroleum and petroleum products in addition to methane and all other carbon-based fuels. That would send a better message to their green constituents and lead the way to nirvana and utopia.

    Reply

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    Sonnyhill

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    Let’s take it to the logical conclusion. California bans fossil fuel which leads to famine. Humans exhale carbon dioxide so cannibalism becomes a virtue, Hollywood films the ghoul fest, the Oscars move to Paris where Gore and Dicaprio accept Best Screenplay and Best Actor awards. Gore pours ketchup on Dicaprio then…………………

    Reply

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      Sonnyhill

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      OMG!!! I’ve become like them.

      Reply

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    Spurwing Plover

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    A little musical piece by Brett Strong would suit these city officials MONEY THAT,S WHAT I WANT they realy dont care about anything but filling up their money bins and KA-CHING is their favorite sound they like to hear and on Gilligans Island Mrs Howell once woke up Mr Howell by rippling some chrisp new dollar bills in his ear

    Reply

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