A federal appeals court ruled on Tuesday that local governments in California can sue oil companies in state courts for allegedly causing climate change and hiding it from the public.
The lawsuit, which dates back to 2017, seeks damages from more than 30 companies, which anti-oil San Francisco Chronicle said fossil fuel producers “benefit from products that contribute to rising temperatures and sea levels.”
And that means climate change is forcing cities and counties across the state to spend more money on infrastructure, including levees.
The plaintiffs in the case are the counties of San Mateo, Marin and Santa Cruz and the cities of Richmond, Santa Cruz and Imperial Beach in San Diego County.
the the Chronicle reported:
Local governments sued in state court under California law allowing damages for “public nuisance,” private actions that harm public health. The companies want the case to be heard in federal court, where judges can review state laws, but are generally less receptive to such laws than state courts and are more likely to dismiss such lawsuits.
U.S. District Judge Vince Chhabria of San Francisco and the U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals initially ruled that the lawsuits raised no issues of federal law and belonged in state court. Last year, the Supreme Court asked the appeals court to reconsider its decision after ordering another court to consider possible federal issues in a similar lawsuit brought by the city of Baltimore. On Tuesday, the Ninth Circuit panel said it reviewed all applicable federal laws and came to the same conclusion.
The lawsuits allege that “the unlawful conduct of oil companies in the production, sale and marketing of fossil fuels contributes to global warming and sea level rise, which has resulted in property damage and other injuries.” in cities and counties, Judge Sandra Ikuta said in the 3-0 decision. While the companies produced some of the oil as federal government contractors or on federal lands, Ikuta said, they did not carry out government orders or policies, and none of their actions involved the federal laws.
“It is time to go to court to hold these defendants accountable for misleading consumers about the harms associated with the use of their products, and to protect our taxpayers from having to bear the enormous costs resulting from this deception.” , a statement released by Marin and Santa Cruz Counties and the Cities of Santa Cruz and Imperial Beach, said.
Richard Wiles, president of the Center for Climate Integrity, called it “a major victory for those California communities seeking their day in court against polluting companies that have spent decades lying about the role of their products in food. of the climate crisis”.
Chevron, the main defendant in the case, condemned the decision.
“The plaintiffs’ claims are based on allegations about global carbon emissions and address global climate change — domestic and international issues that can only be regulated by federal, not state, law,” said Braden Reddall, gatekeeper. -word of Chevron. “Although the court has decided that plaintiffs’ claims at this time can go beyond this preliminary stage, Chevron looks forward to additional challenges that should bring this meritless lawsuit to a speedy end.”
Oil companies have noted that some of the demonized drilling is taking place on the outer continental shelf, which are federally regulated waters. But the court said local governments did not claim to have caused damage to the land, but that there was damage caused by products made from fossil fuels.
The case is San Mateo County vs. Chevronno. 18-15499 in the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit
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