More than a dozen states, counties and cities, from fire-ravaged California to flood-prone South Carolina, are suing oil companies to hold them responsible for the damage they say their products have caused due to climate change, The Washington Post reports.
However, prosecutors face significant legal hurdles to prove in court that the oil industry deceived the public on climate change and needs to be held liable for their products’ emissions.
The latest to file suit is Connecticut, which on Monday alleged that ExxonMobil misled the public on climate change for decades. William Tong, the state’s attorney general, said ExxonMobil’s actions left the state, with more than 600 miles of coastline, ill-prepared for sea-level rise and more intense storms. But the oil industry contends that using the courts to force specific firms to shoulder the cost of a worldwide problem such as global warming, for which everyone bears some responsibility, is unrealistic.
Minnesota and Rhode Island separately have their own suits, as do major cities such as Baltimore, San Francisco, and Oakland, California, as well as smaller municipalities such as Boulder, Colorado, and Hoboken, New Jersey. The coastal South Carolina city of Charleston, where flooded streets have become common after storms, last week became the first city in the South to file a climate lawsuit against Big Oil companies.
The cases are slowly moving through the courts, with the central question so far being where they should be heard. Read the full story.