Monday, July 2, 2018

Rhode Island sues oil companies over climate change

Miranda Green and Timothy Cama report for The Hill:

THE OCEAN STATE VS. OIL: Rhode Island's attorney general sued a dozen oil and natural gas companies and their affiliates Monday in state court, accusing them of causing climate change and not sufficiently mitigating its effects.
Attorney General Peter Kilmartin (D) said Rhode Island is uniquely harmed by global warming, with its more than 400 miles of shoreline, fishing industry, marine economy and other factors.
"Rhode Island is especially vulnerable to the effects of climate changes that is now on our doorstep with sea level rise and an increase in severe weather patterns, as seen by the extensive damage caused by storms in the past several years, including Super Storm Sandy and the floods of 2010," Kilmartin said in a statement.
"The defendants' actions for the past several decades are already having and will continue to have a significant and detrimental impact on our infrastructure, economy, public health, and our eco-systems, and will force the state to divert already-limited resources to mitigate the effects of climate change, thereby diminishing resources for other vital programs and services."
Who the suit targets: The defendants in the lawsuit include big companies across the petroleum supply chain, including Exxon Mobil Corp., Chevron Corp., ConocoPhillips Co., Marathon Oil Corp. and Hess Corp.
Industry responds: The National Association of Manufacturers said such a lawsuit isn't productive.
"It's time for politicians and trial lawyers to put an end to this frivolous litigation," said Lindsey de la Torre, executive director of the group's Manufacturers' Accountability Project.
"Taxpayer resources should not be used for baseless lawsuits that are designed to enrich trial lawyers and grab headlines for politicians. This abuse of our legal system does nothing to advance meaningful solutions, which manufacturers are focused on every day."
What happens now: It's anybody's guess how the lawsuit will play out, but the recent record of climate lawsuits by governments against fossil fuel companies is not good.
Just last month, a federal judge dismissed similar claims by San Francisco and Oakland, Calif., against major oil companies. Judge William Alsup said the science of climate change and its link to fossil fuels is solid, but it's not a place for the courts to get involved.
Read more. 

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