New York Mayor Bill de Blasio is suing the five largest oil companies in the U.S. for contributing to climate change that allegedly increased the destructive force of Superstorm Sandy.
The storm ravaged New York in 2012, killing 53 people and causing $19 billion in damage. New York’s recovery has included a number of resiliency projects to strengthen the city against future natural disasters. De Blasio wants the oil companies to pay for the improvements, Politico reports.
“The city seeks to shift the costs of protecting the city from climate change impacts back onto the companies that have done nearly all they could to create this existential threat,” the lawsuit reads, according to the New York Post.
De Blasio is also pushing for the city’s pension funds to divest from oil companies, a decision that could cost city employees $2.8 billion over two decades, according to the industry trade group National Association of Manufacturers (NAM).
“Divestment won’t do anything to cut greenhouse gas emissions. All it does is pass stocks from one shareholder to another,” NAM Vice President Chris Netram said in a press call with reporters Wednesday.
Pension boards are ultimately in charge of the decision to divest or not. City Comptroller Scott Stringer will join de Blasio in his call to divest. However, state Comptroller Tom DiNapoli has historically advocated for the pension funds to remain invested in fossil fuel companies, Politico reports.
Several California municipalities have already launched into lawsuits against energy companies. Like de Blasio, local California officials want members of the fossil-fuel industry to pay for weather defenses and infrastructure improvements to their cities in preparation for severe weather.
Companies are pushing back against the lawsuits. Exxon reviewed bond disclosures from the different California cities involved in the lawsuits. Exxon found that while selling bonds, city officials significantly undersold the threat of severe weather compared to the dire language used in the lawsuits.
“These seven California municipalities are taking energy manufacturers to court, blaming them for catastrophes they are sure will happen. But when it came time to secure money from investors, these cities failed to mention the certain risks they cite in their lawsuits,” NAM Senior Vice President Linda Kelly wrote in a statement to The Daily Caller News Foundation.
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