Could oil firms be forced to pay for climate change in California?

CPR:  The Bay Area city of Richmond recently made an unlikely move that got the attention of its largest employer and taxpayer, Chevron.

It followed other municipalities and counties across California that have filed lawsuits against oil companies, alleging that the energy giants knowingly contributed to climate change and should begin paying for it. Literally.

Employing the legal strategy that brought states major payouts from tobacco companies decades ago, the plaintiffs are demanding that oil interests begin writing checks to protect Californians against rising seas, crippling drought and harmful air.

The legal viability of the lawsuits is unclear; the cases are in early stages. But if any succeed, the implications are profound: The state is already spending hundreds of millions of dollars to shore up coastlines, protect infrastructure and retrofit roads and bridges in response to rising seas. And if companies are persuaded to drill and refine less oil, California has a much better chance of reducing greenhouse-gas emissions on the schedule it has set.

Besides Richmond, plaintiffs include the cities of Imperial Beach, Oakland, Santa Cruz and San Francisco and the counties of Marin, San Mateo and Santa Cruz. The Los Angeles City Council is considering its own suit.

 The state has not joined in, something environmental groups say is a failure of leadership.

“Accountability is critical,” said Kassie Siegel, director of the Climate Law Institute at the Center for Biological Diversity. “The state of California can and should file a case seeking money damages and also an injunction against ongoing activities.”

The California Department of Justice has sued the Trump administration two dozen times over policies that include several related to the environment. Asked whether the state would join the cities and counties or consider filing its own suit against the oil companies, the Justice Department declined to comment about potential future action.

The city-county suits began six months ago when Imperial Beach, in southern San Diego County, sued a handful of oil companies. Richmond, surrounded on three sides by water and imperiled by rising seas, joined the fight Jan. 22. Its city council voted unanimously to sue 29 oil producers, even if it meant taking on Chevron, whose tax payments—$45 million in 2016—account for 25 percent of the city’s general fund.

“They are a pretty important corporate citizen,” said Richmond Mayor Tom Butt.

However, “we are a waterfront city—Richmond has 32 miles of shoreline on the Bay. Part of our city is vulnerable to sea-level rise: our transportation systems, neighborhoods and commercial areas and thousands of acres of waterfront park.”  read more

29 Comments on Could oil firms be forced to pay for climate change in California?

  1. All oil companies should just decide to embargo Californica.

    Just say “we are going to save you from yourself”.

    Cigarette companies can’t sell to people under 18 because they are too immature to understand the long term consequences of their actions and selling gas to California can use the same reason.

  2. Local citizens should file suit against these same politicans. If the politicans are driving vehicles that use gasoline and oil, they also knowingly contribute to global warming and should be sued to pay for all the damage they do to the environement.

  3. Pack up and move out.
    Plunder.
    Pure and simple.

    The socialist/totalitarian/nihilistic paradigm cannot be sustained in and of itself. It is a lie, founded upon lies, and perpetuated by lies. The recent despoliation of Europe is to sustain this tissue of lies, as is the growing criminalities of California, New York, Illinois, Oregon, Washington, Massachusetts, Maryland, and a host of others.

    At some point, we (every human and every business) must either submit or rebel. We will be pushed to the point that no one can remain indifferent. You are either a parasite or a host – there is no middle ground.

    izlamo delenda est …

  4. I don’t see a problem. Sell the refined oil (gasoline, diesel fuel, fuel oil etc.) back to the state of Californicate at a premium and let the Californicate tax payers foot the bill at the pump. Problem solved.

  5. Will not end well. Loony Kaliphornia liberals will move and infect the whole country with their values. Those who stay are going to pay 25 dollars per gallon of gas. Econmy will collpse over night. But, hey, a few lawyers will make billions. Doesn’t that make you feel better?

  6. They could always stop buying fuel and turn off the gas to their homes if they feel that strongly about it.

    yep… thot not!

  7. I think Aleon hit on the solution – jack up the price of gasoline in California by a sigificant amount – say $.50 a gallon. Retain a good public relations firm and (a) throw blame on the California governments and (b) take credit for doing something about climate change. Maybe they can use some of these profits to fund projects that look good such as seawalls.

    The government agencies promoting these lawsuits are hoping for a money grab – probably with the intention of propping up their insolvent pension funds. By raising the price of gasoline substantially, oil companies can claim – with substantial justification – that they are the ones actually doing something about climate change. Since Jerry Brown just recently did the same thing with an extra gasoline tax, it should work.

    Finally, will consumption to down? Yes, but on the other hand California is joined at the hip with a commuter lifestyle. But, as the exodus from California inevitably accelerates, anti-oil advocates see emissions fall, and Richmond won’t have to worry as much about sea level change with a much decreased population.

  8. “The state is already spending hundreds of millions of dollars to shore up coastlines, protect infrastructure and retrofit roads and bridges in response to rising seas.”

    Ah, WHAT rising seas?

  9. This reminds me of religious fanatics who give away everything they own and sit and wait because some huckster convinced them that the earth ends on such-and-such day. Mass hysteria on a state-wide level.

  10. Texas, Oklahoma, Alaska, Wyoming, Pennsylvania, Indiana, etc. should TURBOCHARGE their oil and gas E&P under a new motto: “In order to drown those damn communists in Cauleephorneeah!”

  11. Still waiting for the meteor.

    I would even accept “the big one”; from San Fran on down. Slide right into the ocean. Bye bye,

  12. So, if the government of California, in all its wisdom, “Knew” there was AGW, why did they keep buying all those petroleum-fueled vehicles to this day? Counter-sue the assholes.

  13. Will Jerry Brown’s high-speed choo-choo run on diesel or electricity from a coal-fired generator?

    Or will his train schedule bear an asterisk? ***schedules only valid on sunny/windy days

  14. Permanently shut down all the gas stations. That should wake up the voters. Then, since they are all nuts, they’ll take the train that will derail.

  15. They should just pass a law requiring the state to return to energy levels of Sept. 9th, 1850. The date California became a state.

  16. There needs to a class action lawsuit filed against the Democratic Party of California for allowing all these uneducated, imbecilic, tax upon ya..,
    cretins to run for state office.

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