By Tim Pearce
Two more California cities have joined a push to force the oil and gas industry to pay for urban defenses against the effects of climate change, according to The Wall Street Journal.
Oakland and San Francisco filed separate suits Wednesday against five oil companies, calling them a “public nuisance” and seeking to force the companies to pay for infrastructure, such as sea walls, to protect coastal cities from rising oceans.
The suits are part of a growing wave of litigation against the oil and gas industry attempting to force companies to cover the costs of natural disasters, WSJ reports.
“These companies knew fossil fuel-driven climate change was real, they knew it was caused by their products and they lied to cover up that knowledge to protect their astronomical profits,” Oakland City Attorney Barbara J. Parker said in a statement. “The harm to our cities has commenced and will only get worse. The law is clear that the defendants are responsible for the consequences of their reckless and disastrous actions.”
If the cities are successful, the oil companies — British Petroleum, Chevron, ConocoPhilips, Exxon Mobil and Royal Dutch Shell — must create and pay into a fund for each city that will be used to purchase billions worth of infrastructure upgrades needed to protect each city from rising seas, according to Parker’s press release.
The companies intend to “vigorously defend” themselves, an Exxon Mobil spokesman told WSJ.
“Climate change is a complex societal challenge that should be addressed through sound government policy and cultural change to drive low-carbon choices for businesses and consumers, not by the courts,” a Shell spokesman said.
“Should this litigation proceed, it will only serve special interests at the expense of broader policy, regulatory, and economic priorities,” a Chevron spokeswoman told Reuters.
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