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District Judge William Alsup dismissed a case brought by the cities of San Francisco and Oakland against five Big Oil companies on the grounds that the matter fell within the competencies of the legislative authorities rather than the judiciary.
Adding insult to injury, the judge made a point of noting that the fossil fuel industry has brought many benefits to the world despite its role in climate change, saying that the issues related to balancing these benefits against changing climate and global warming needed to be handled by the right agencies, including environmental protection authorities, diplomats, “our Executive, and at least the Senate.”
"The problem deserves a solution on a more vast scale than can be supplied by a district judge or jury in a public nuisance case," Judge Alsup said.
The cities of San Francisco and Oakland have accused Exxon, Chevron, Shell, BP, and ConocoPhillips of being aware of the effect their business had on the environment but pursuing their business goals without regard for this effect and concealing it from the public.
They also blamed Big Oil for environmental changes resulting from climate change. Put simply, the two cities wanted Big Oil to foot the bill for measures against problems such as coastal erosion resulting from climate change. These measures would cost billions.
Yet the San Francisco and Oakland case is just one of a bunch of similar cases brought against Big Oil. Alsup’s ruling may not bode well for at least one of them in New York. During the first hearing on that case, Judge John Keenan addressed the plaintiff, Mayor Bill de Blasio, with, “The firehouses all have trucks. The Sanitation Department has trucks. If you open the door and go out to Foley Square, you’re going to see five police cars. Does the city have clean hands?”
The judge made the remarks during a hearing of arguments for and against the case and whether it should be allowed to move forward.
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.
I'm not a lawyer, but the judges decision looks sensible. The fact (again) that climate change is recognized DOES NOT necessarily mean it is catastrophic in nature. An issue of worldwide scale is NOT suited as a nuisance matter in a local court, period. This is NOT a tobacco or lead case, so STOP that nonsense as well! No comparison between a cigarette and a gallon of gasoline or MYRIAD of other useful petroleum products that ENHANCE our modern lifestyle. The judge rightly observes the MANY benefits brought to modern civilization by fossil fuels. Everything man does has an impact and most often, involves complex tradeoffs. So instead of the ongoing vilification program foisted by the environmental activists against ENERGY PROVIDERS, why don't we as citizens CHANGE the discussion. Try this simple question: What do you (insert favorite Environmental NGO) propose that is CLEAN, SUSTAINABLE & SCALABLE to replace 65% of the current U.S electric generating capability and 95% of our transportation fuels? Don't say "100% renewables by 2050" because that is a SLOGAN, not a potential reality supported by ANY creditable peer reviewed scientific analysis.
Let's go to work! The coming energy transition away from fossil fuels in the decades to come will require a rational & sensible debate. The key is COLLABORATION (not confrontation) among government agencies, energy providers, concerned citizens and YES environmental groups if they can (somehow) outgrow the ongoing "fossil fuel extinction" campaign. A coherent national energy strategy is LONG OVERDUE. This is no different than any number of other challenges our nation has faced during it's history. I've said it on several blogs and it bears repeating. ENOUGH political science, drama & "theater" and more focus on constructive dialogue, PHYSICAL science and results. Otherwise, when it comes to energy, our nation will continue to be done a terrible disservice...