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Judge William Alsup who is hearing a case brought by San Francisco and Oakland against five Big Oil companies, has given the plaintiffs and Chevron a homework assignment that suggests the end of the case may be near. The two municipalities and Chevron must evaluate the positive effects oil dependency has had on the U.S. economy.
“We needed oil and fossil fuels to get from 1859 to the present. Yes, that’s causing global warming. But against that negative, we need to weigh-in the larger benefits that have flowed from the use of fossil fuels. It’s been a huge, huge benefit,” Judge Alsup from the U.S. District Court in San Francisco said.
Suing Big Oil for climate change is turning into the latest big thing. A UN survey from last year found there are nearly 900 suits focusing on climate change across 25 countries. The latest in the United States was former California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger threatening to sue Big Oil for “first-degree murder”.
The San Francisco and Oakland suits were filed last September, and Reuters at the time quoted San Francisco officials as saying that the five oil companies “knowingly and recklessly created an ongoing public nuisance that is causing harm now and in the future risks catastrophic harm to human life and property.”
Related: The Oil Major Wall Street Won’t Back
In March, after Judge Alsup questioned the five defendants, he destroyed one of the main pillars in the case brought to him by San Francisco and Oakland: he ruled Big Oil had not conspired to hide facts about climate change from the public.
This latest homework assignment by Alsup chimes in with an argument from the defendants’ side: that the environmental damage the two cities’ authorities claim they have sustained as a result of Big Oil’s activities is “speculative”, involving billions of people using oil and gas as well as long environmental processes.
By Irina Slav for Oilprice.com
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Irina is a writer for Oilprice.com with over a decade of experience writing on the oil and gas industry.
Suing for a large amount of money instead sounds to me as if they're in it for the money, not the relief...