Local Governements in California File Common Law Claims Against Largest Fossil Fuel Companies

Author: Michael Burger, on Sabin Center for Climate Change Law Blog, Published on: 18 July 2017

Yesterday, three local governments in California (San Mateo County, Marin County and the City of Imperial Beach) filed potentially groundbreaking climate change lawsuits in California state courts...

Each of the complaints presents the same simple, compelling storyline: These fossil fuel companies knew. They knew that climate change was happening, that fossil fuel production and use was causing it, and that continued fossil fuel production and use would only make it worse. They knew this, but they hid it...Ultimately, their actions caused sea levels to rise, and thereby caused harm, are continuing to cause harm, and are contributing to future harm to the plaintiff governments and their residents.

The named defendants include Chevron, ExxonMobil, BP, Shell, Citgo, ConocoPhillips, Phillips 66, Peabody Energy, Total, Eni, Arch Coal, Rio Tinto, Statoil, Anadarko, Occidental, Repsol, Marathon, Hess, Devon, Encana, Apache, and unspecified “Company Does.”...

Without detracting from the many other legal issues likely to arise in the lawsuits, here are three that come immediately to mind...

Standing...

Political Question...

Preemption...

...[T]hese cases represent a new pressure point on the fossil fuel industry, and a new spotlight on that industry’s engagement with climate law and policy...

Read the full post here