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USA: Colorado communities file lawsuit against Suncor & ExxonMobil to hold them accountable for the costs of climate change

On April 17th, 2018, the Colorado communities of Boulder County, San Miguel County, and the City of Boulder filed a lawsuit against Suncor and ExxonMobil, with legal support from EarthRights International, Niskanen Center, and other co-counsel. The communities ask that the oil companies pay their respective share of the costs associated with climate change impacts caused by the use of fossil fuel products. Members of the communities allege that the companies have known about the danger of their products for the climate for 50 years, but have not taken any measures to mitigate risks. 

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Autor(a): Natasha Geiling, ThinkProgress

On Tuesday, the city of Boulder, Colorado — along with the nearby counties of Boulder and San Miguel — filed a lawsuit against two of the largest fossil fuel companies in the world over their role in perpetuating climate change.The lawsuit, which takes its inspiration from a slew of cases filed within the last year by coastal cities and counties in California and New York, is the first climate liability lawsuit to be filed by cities and counties located in the interior of the United States.
The Colorado lawsuit is also much narrower in the companies it names...The Colorado lawsuit is only seeking damages from two companies: ExxonMobil and Suncor, two of the world's largest oil companies that also each have a significant presence in the state..."The law says if someone harms, you they owe you compensation," Jones said. "These companies have acted recklessly. They knowingly produced harmful products, they failed to disclose that to the public, and we have been harmed by that."

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Autor(a): EarthRights International

The Colorado communities of Boulder County, San Miguel County, and the City of Boulder—with legal support from EarthRights International, Niskanen Center, and other co-counsel—filed a lawsuit against Suncor and ExxonMobil ("Exxon"), two oil companies with significant responsibility for climate change. The communities have demanded that these companies pay their fair share of the costs associated with climate change impacts so that the costs do not fall disproportionately on taxpayers... Over the next three decades, these communities will face at least one hundred million dollars in costs to deal with the impacts of climate change caused by the use of fossil fuel products like those made and sold by Suncor and Exxon...Together, Suncor and Exxon are responsible for billions of tons of CO2 emissions. Their future carbon footprint is likely to be enormous, as well: both companies plan to expand fossil fuel production through tar sands, fracking, and other means...For more than 50 years, these oil companies have known about the harm that their products would cause to communities, but have chosen to continue business as usual...Consequently, Boulder County, San Miguel County, and the City of Boulder have partnered together to represent communities on the Front Range and the Western Slope and require these companies to help pay for the costs of climate change on local communities in Colorado. 

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Autor(a): EarthRights

Q: How does climate change impact these communities? 
A: Rising temperatures threaten these communities' safety

Q: What costs do the communities face in responding to climate change?
A: Over the next few decades, these communities will need to spend more than one hundred million dollars to respond to climate change.

Q: Why sue these two companies?
A: Suncor and Exxon are two of the world's largest contributors to climate change and have worked closely together in Colorado. Fossil fuel combustion accounted for nearly 80% of all GHG emissions between 1970 and 2010.

Q: What did Suncor and Exxon do that was outside normal business behavior?
A: For more than 50 years, these oil companies have known about the harm that their products would cause to communities, but have chosen to continue business as usual.

Q: What will this lawsuit cost the local taxpayers?
A: The local governments prioritize spending taxpayer dollars in a cost-conscious manner.There will only be nominal costs associated with the lawsuit.

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