The city and county of Santa Cruz, Calif., filed lawsuits Wednesday against 29 energy companies to force them to build protective infrastructure and cover damages from climate related natural disasters.
“Defendants have known for 50 years that greenhouse gas pollution from their fossil fuel products has a significant impact on the Earth’s climate,” the lawsuits allege. “Defendants concealed the dangers, sought to undermine public support for greenhouse gas regulation, and engaged in massive campaigns to promote the ever-increasing use of their products at ever greater volumes.”
The lawsuits build on others filed by various California cities and counties. San Francisco and Oakland filed similar suits in September, wanting oil and gas companies to pay for infrastructure to protect the coastal cities from rising sea levels.
Prosecutors in Wednesday’s lawsuits go further, however. They seek payment from the companies to cover the costs of drought, storms and wildfires in return for exacerbating climate change, The San Francisco Gate reports.
Oil and gas companies dispute the allegations.
Chevron “welcomes serious attempts to address the issue of climate change, but these suits do not do that,” a spokeswoman told The Wall Street Journal in September.
“Climate change is a complex societal challenge that should be addressed through sound government policy and cultural change to drive low-carbon choices for businesses and consumers, not by the courts,” a Shell Spokesman told WSJ.
The City of Imperial Beach and Marin and San Mateo counties launched lawsuits in August to force companies to protect and repair “critical infrastructure” such as bridges, hospitals and roads damaged by climate-related events.
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