USA: Court Rules Against Oil Companies In Climate Lawsuit

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USA: Court Rules Against Oil Companies In Climate Lawsuit
USA: Court Rules Against Oil Companies In Climate Lawsuit

The U.S. appeals court ruled Tuesday against major oil companies in lawsuits filed by California cities and counties seeking compensation for damages and biases over the impact they have had on climate change.

A panel of the 9th Circuit Federal Court of Appeals said state courts are the appropriate instance for lawsuits alleging that big oil companies promoted crude as environmentally responsible when producers knew it was causing damage.

The lawsuits allege that the companies created a disruption of public order and should pay for the damage of climate change and help build breakwaters and other infrastructure to protect against future impacts, which could cost tens of billions of dollars.

USA: Court Rules Against Oil Companies In Climate Lawsuit
USA: Court Rules Against Oil Companies In Climate Lawsuit

“It is time for these companies to pay their fair share,” Dennis Herrera, the San Francisco city attorney, said in a statement celebrating the ruling.

While the rulings were victories for counties and cities – most in the San Francisco Bay area and in the small town of Imperial Beach in San Diego County – and were celebrated by environmental groups, it could be years before that they go before a jury, if they can get that far.

The unanimous decisions by the three judges pass the cases to the state courts, where they were originally filed.

The oil companies had successfully transferred them to federal courts, where two San Francisco judges reached different conclusions.

After conducting a unique five-hour “tutorial” with the best researchers on the science of climate change, District Judge William Alsup dismissed the Oakland and San Francisco lawsuits in 2018.

It ruled that Congress and the president, and not the courts, were the most appropriate to address the contribution of fossil fuels to global warming.

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