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Cities Vs. Big Oil: Judge Orders Plaintiffs To Find Benefits Of Fossil Fuels

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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  • John Scior on May 31 2018 said:
    Different regions have different climate this is for sure and a change in one area that may be bad for that area and its residences may in fact be good for another. An example of this is a warmer climate may mean people in northern climates get to have a longer outdoor season an be more active physically thus staving off diabetes and heart disease. Also a warmer climate may mean that previous northern climates that were not agriculturally available may now be able to feed millions more people. The melting of the northern ice cap may mean less habitat for polar bears, but the food sources they prey upon for sustenance may see increase in their numbers. Also the northern sea may become more navigational for trade and may save on transportation costs as well as fuel used to get goods to market. Oil and gasoline are energy dense and can sit in storage fuel tanks until they are needed, unlike battery technology which must constantly be charged to be ready for use. The relative inexpensive CE autos are more affordable for poor people and thus make efficient transportation available to a wider demographic base. Solar panels can cause toxic pollution in their production ( manufacture ) Wind can kill endangered birds. Hydroelectric can make salmon runs and migrating fish difficult to maintain populations. In essence there can be problems with any Energy source. A question I ask is ow does one determine how much carbon dioxide any company or individual is allowed to produce. Because animals exhale it, it is a naturally occurring substance it seems the whole idea of attempting to control CO2 emmissions is folly. COuntries which have agreed to limitations have withdrawn from their agreements when the time comes close to actually implementing a change that will make a difference because it hurts the economy. A tax on coal, gas, or oil would be the simplest measure to curtail usage but the consumers themselves fight that and woe to any politician proposing such a rule. In 30-60 Years Oil will become scarcer to the point that EV technology will take off. Also newer nuclear technologies be they 4th gen fission reactors or new Fusion technology that is in development will have come to maturity. Economics will resolve the situation on its own accord through technology and investment in better energy production from more efficient methods. Why spend the next 30-60 years wasting your energies on a problem that will ultimately resolve itself.
  • Dodgy Geezer on May 29 2018 said:
    If the plaintiffs feel that Big Oil is endangering their cities, why don't they sue them to stop doing this? That is the obvious relief for such a situation.

    Suing for a large amount of money instead sounds to me as if they're in it for the money, not the relief...
  • Brad Mosman on May 29 2018 said:
    Suing Big Oil for first-murder? This morning I sat in a cafe, and, looking across the parking lot noticed eleven cars sitting at the Strarbuck's drive through, all engines running. And that was a slow day. At this moment, I'd bet there are 10 million Americans sitting at banks, drug stores, fast food joints. All engines running. At sporting events, people practically drive over the tops of each other. And Schwarzenegger, that great Hollywood luminary, blames the industry for "murder". In his state, vast numbers of people sit on the freeways for no other purpose sometimes than a trip to the movies. We The People are easy to lead. Just follow the entertainers and we'll know who to blame for our own folly.
  • paul jackson on May 28 2018 said:
    Besides the improvements of life in the 20th Century, NYC, Philadelphia, and Chicago would all be under hundreds of feet of manure if the ICE had not replaced horse-drawn transportation.

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