Federal Judge Puts The Final Nail In The Coffin Of California’s Climate Crusade

Chris White | Energy Reporter

A federal judge dismissed a lawsuit Friday targeting ExxonMobil on the basis that two California cities waging a legal battle could not prove the energy company was responsible for climate change in the state.

District Judge William Alsup wrote that San Francisco and Oakland failed to prove that global warming would be substantially curtailed if the oil company did not operate inside California. His decision follows a ruling the judge made in June dismissing both cases on the grounds that Congress, not the court system, is responsible for addressing the emission of greenhouse gasses.

“It is manifest that global warming would have continued in the absence of all California-related activities of defendants,” Alsup wrote in his July 27 decision. “Plaintiffs have therefore failed to adequately link each defendants’ alleged California activities to plaintiffs’ harm.”

Cities in Colorado, Rhode Island, and New York have also filed similar lawsuits against energy producers over the past year. They argue that Exxon and others should pony-up money for mitigation efforts designed to forestall the effects from climate change. Many of the lawsuits have already been nixed.

Alsup also suggested that climate change would be no better or worse even if Exxon were not operating in California.

“From all that appears in the amended complaints, however, this worldwide chain of events (Exxon’s oil production) does not depend on a particular defendant’s contacts with California,” he said. “Whatever sales or events occurred in California were causally insignificant in the context of the worldwide conduct leading to the international problem of global warming.”

Trial lawyers with Hagens Berman Sobol Shapiro LLP handled climate lawsuits on behalf of the two California cities and New York City in exchange for a percentage of any winnings, called a contingency fee. (RELATED: Trial Lawyers Handling Cities’ Global Warming Lawsuits Stand To Make Billions)

Hagens Berman stood to earn billions of dollars in contingency fees depending on the total winnings, from a favorable judgement against oil companies. The three cities claimed billions of dollars-worth of damage from global warming induced by fossil fuels.

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