Rhode Island Attorney General Peter Kilmartin announced Monday a lawsuit designed to hold fossil fuel companies partially responsible for the effect climate change has on state infrastructure.
Democratic Gov. Gina Raimondo, Democratic Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse and Democratic Rep. James Langevin joined Kilmartin and other activists in front of the Narragansett Sea Wall at Narragansett Town Beach to announce the lawsuit. All three Rhode Island Democrats are effectively carrying on a climate crusade made popular by former New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman.
Kilmartin’s office is calling the legal action a “landmark” step to address the damage global warming has caused in the state and any efforts Chevron, Exxon and others can exercise in the future to prevent climate-related problems. Rhode Island is the most recent state to hold companies accountable for climate change. Sher Edling is representing the state, which was behind similar lawsuits in California.
“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 ecosystems, 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,” Kilmartin said in a statement.
The manufacturing industry criticized Rhode Island for continuing to pursue energy developers in the court of law.
“Lawsuits targeting manufacturers do nothing to address climate change, and as history has demonstrated, these lawsuits stand little chance in the courtroom,” Lindsey de la Torre, executive director of the National Association of Manufacturers’ (NAM) Manufacturers’ Accountability Project (MAP), said in a statement following the announcement.
She added: “Just last week, U.S. District Judge William Alsup dismissed similar lawsuits filed by San Francisco and Oakland, writing, ‘No plaintiff has ever succeeded in bringing a nuisance claim based on global warming.’”
A federal judge in California threw out two lawsuits on June 25 that sought to do effectively the same thing Rhode Island is trying to do now: punishing oil companies for supposedly hurting the environment. (RELATED: Chevron Makes An Obvious And Devastating Point Against Climate Alarmist Claims)
San Francisco and Oakland were among a handful of California cities that sued Chevron in February for supposedly contributing to climate change. Boulder, Colorado, joined the climate lawsuit shortly thereafter, claiming the company was partially to blame for wildfires.
Class action firm Hagens Berman Sobol Shapiro LLP handled San Francisco, Oakland and New York City’s lawsuit. Cities pay law firms no upfront cost in exchange for a percentage of any winnings or settlement.
Hagens Berman could have earned millions, possibly billions, of dollars in contingency fees depending on the total winnings had the cities won their case. All told, these three cities are asking oil companies to hand over many billions of dollars.
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