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No Big Oil Conspiracy On Climate Change, Judge Says In Shocking Ruling

Oil rig

There has been no conspiracy by Big Oil to suppress climate change facts, District Judge William Alsup said at a court hearing on the suit brought against several Big Oil companies by the cities of San Francisco and Oakland.

This means one of the main pillars of the plaintiffs’ case has been toppled. The suit alleged that the five Big Oil defendants engaged in “a large-scale, sophisticated advertising and public relations campaign” aimed at promoting the use of their products despite their awareness that these products were contributing to climate change.

The Five Big Oil majors, including Exxon, Chevron, Shell, ConocoPhillips, and BP, were questioned by the judge on Wednesday on climate change as the two California cities seek billions from them to tackle environmental damage resulting, according to the plaintiffs, from the defendants’ activities.

The five companies’ stance is that the lawsuit should be dismissed, Reuters noted in a report on the hearing, because control over the production of oil and gas and carbon emissions from the industry is the prerogative of environmental regulators and not courts.

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.

Related: Schwarzenegger Accuses Big Oil Of 1st Degree Murder

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.”

Then this January, New York City’s mayor Bill de Blasio threatened Big Oil with more lawsuits, comparing the industry to the tobacco giants, saying they “systematically poisoned the Earth, knew about it, covered it up, explained it away, tried to hook people more and more on their product.”

By Irina Slav for Oilprice.com

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  • Rod on March 23 2018 said:
    I can't believe it! Real sensible ruling. Congrats, Judge!
  • Raj Manglani on March 23 2018 said:
    This is like people eating sweet things suing sugar producers as sugar causes diabetes
  • Kr55 on March 23 2018 said:
    Nice to see. The premise of these lawsuits were always ridiculous. Build stuff along the water, damage is inevitable and in the end, you really have no one to blame but yourself.
  • Randy Verret on March 23 2018 said:
    Well, there is hope after all that the 9th Circuit can actually come up with a sensible environmental decision. Let's (now) go to work on an intelligent, thoughtful debate about formulating a coherent national energy strategy and how we intend to sensibly transition away from fossil fuels in the decades ahead. STOP wasting time & ENERGY on this ongoing "sideshow" that has NOTHING to do with energy...
  • Louis Spring on March 23 2018 said:
    Wise decision by the judge. Now, the plaintiffs can fly home, get in their cars, drive home to their heated/air conditioned houses all thanks to those oil companies they tried to extort.

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