Big Oil Won a Battle in Court This Week, But The War Is Far From Over

Mother Jones

A protester stands in front of the White House after President Donald Trump's announcement that he was withdrawing the United States from the Paris climate accordJeff Malet/ZUMA On Monday, a San Francisco federal judge ruled in favor of Big Oil, throwing out a prominent lawsuit brought by two California cities, Oakland and San Francisco, over the fossil fuel industry's responsibility in dealing with climate change. It was a landmark case, prompting cities across the country to follow suit in an effort to protect their citizens from the growing threat of global warming. As Mother Jones' Amy Thompson wrote in October, the cities hoped to force the companies to pay for sea walls and other municipal projects necessary to combat the effects of a warming planet, which the companies had a hand in causing. In essence, the cities sought damages from climate change, which they claimed was a form of public nuisance. Even though the plaintiffs lost, it wasn't a total missed opportunity for environmentalists.


San Francisco's Climate Case Against Big Oil Gets Dismissed

WIRED

This story originally appeared on Mother Jones and is part of the Climate Desk collaboration. On Monday, a San Francisco federal judge ruled in favor of Big Oil, throwing out a prominent lawsuit brought by two California cities, Oakland and San Francisco, over the fossil fuel industry's responsibility in dealing with climate change. It was a landmark case, prompting cities across the country to follow suit in an effort to protect their citizens from the growing threat of global warming. As Mother Jones' Amy Thomson wrote in October, the cities hoped to force the companies to pay for seawalls and other municipal projects necessary to combat the effects of a warming planet, which the companies had a hand in causing. In essence, the cities sought damages from climate change, which they claimed was a form of public nuisance.


In court, oil company admits reality of human-caused global warming, denies guilt

Mashable

On Thursday, in a packed federal courthouse in San Francisco, U.S. District Court Judge William Alsup donned a space-themed tie and listened as scientists and lawyers formally presented the fundamentals of climate science. The hearing, dubbed a "tutorial" by Judge Alsup, marked the first time a judge has ever asked for and heard a presentation of climate science for the purposes of deciding a court case. The case Alsup is presiding over involves several fossil fuel companies and two major cities -- San Francisco and Oakland. The cities are suing the world's oil giants -- Chevron, BP, Shell, and others -- for extracting and selling fuels that the companies knew would stoke climate change and sea level rise. Adapting to these changes requires massive infrastructure undertakings, such as building formidable concrete sea walls, and the coastal cities want Big Oil to pay.


U.S. judge throws out climate change lawsuits against big oil

The Japan Times

SAN FRANCISCO – A U.S. judge who held a hearing about climate change that received widespread attention ruled Monday that Congress and the president were best suited to address the contribution of fossil fuels to global warming, throwing out lawsuits that sought to hold big oil companies liable for the Earth's changing environment. Noting that the world has also benefited significantly from oil and other fossil fuel, Judge William Alsup said questions about how to balance the "worldwide positives of the energy" against its role in global warming "demand the expertise of our environmental agencies, our diplomats, our Executive, and at least the Senate." "The problem deserves a solution on a more vast scale than can be supplied by a district judge or jury in a public nuisance case," he said. Alsup's ruling came in lawsuits brought by San Francisco and neighboring Oakland that accused Chevron, Exxon Mobil, ConocoPhillips, BP and Royal Dutch Shell of long knowing that fossil fuels posed serious risks to the environment, but still promoting them as environmentally responsible. The lawsuits said the companies created a public nuisance and should pay for sea walls and other infrastructure to protect against the effects of climate change -- construction that could cost billions of dollars.


Turns Out Cities Can't Sue Oil Companies for Climate Change

WIRED

You can't sue your way to a solution for global warming. On Thursday, Judge John Keenan of New York's Southern District dismissed the City of New York's lawsuit against the international oil and gas companies BP, Chevron, ConocoPhillips, ExxonMobil, and Royal Dutch Shell. Facing billions of dollars in climate change-related damage in the coming years, New York was hoping to extract some money from the transnational companies that extract the oil that people burn for energy--raising the planet's temperature, exacerbating storms, melting polar ice and elevating sea levels, worsening wildfires, extending droughts, and allowing diseases to spread farther and faster. The problem isn't the science; it's settled. The problem is the law.