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California Cities Want Big Oil Lawsuit Back In Court

San Francisco and Oakland have approached a federal appeals court with a request to reinstate their lawsuits against five Big Oil companies, which a U.S. District Judge dismissed last year.

NBC reports the two municipalities had also asked the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of San Francisco to return the lawsuits on their own turf, to the San Francisco Superior Court and the Alameda County Superior Court, where the lawsuits were filed originally.

San Francisco and Oakland are suing Chevron, Exxon, Shell, BP, and ConocoPhillips for selling oil products despite their knowledge of the effect these products had on the environment.

"Defendants have known for decades that the continued burning of fossil fuels would increase global temperatures and cause devastating impacts on coastal communities like Oakland and San Francisco. Yet they continued to wrongfully promote the increased, unrestricted use of their products," the attorneys of the two plaintiffs wrote in a brief.

The five companies’ stance was that control over the production of oil and gas and carbon emissions from the industry is the prerogative of environmental regulators and not courts. They argued the case should be dismissed, which is exactly what happened eventually.

Yet, the Big Oil defendants have also argued the environmental damage the two cities’ authorities claim they have sustained is “speculative”, involving billions of people using oil and gas as well as long environmental processes.

Another anti-Big Oil case against the same five companies was dismissed in New York City as well, a month after the SF/Oakland case dismissal. “Climate change is a fact of life, as is not contested by Defendants,” the Manhattan judge wrote in his ruling. “But the serious problems caused thereby are not for the judiciary to ameliorate. Global warming and solutions thereto must be addressed by the two other branches of government.”

By Irina Slav for Oilprice.com

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