Canada’s largest oil company Suncor and American oil company Exxon Mobile are being sued for climate damage by two Colorado counties and the city of Boulder. The lawsuit was filed Tuesday by Boulder County and San Miguel County in a Boulder city court.
There have been eight coastal California cities and counties, including San Fransisco and Oakland that have filed similar lawsuits against ExxonMobil and other oil companies on the same grounds that these Colorado Counties have made.
This lawsuit by these Colorado counties is the first by an inland county or municipality.
Boulder County’s Commissioner Elise Jones made a statement earlier this week defending and making his claim on why his county is committed to these lawsuits, “Climate change is not just about sea level rise. It affects all of us in the middle of the country as well, in fact, Colorado is one of the fastest warming states in the nation.”
The three communities have been victim to several extreme weather events including flash floods, and wildfires that can be linked to climate change.
It is well known that oil companies have known about this incoming threat for years and that despite this knowledge have continued to expand their business practices. It is argued in a 100-page manifesto by the two counties that the fact that these companies knew it and continued is a crime against the climate, and the people living in the different affected climates.
This argument is being included in these lawsuits, and the lawyers and professionals have proof that ExxonMobil and Suncor have been aware that their products are linked to climate change, and have known since 1968, because of a report commissioned by the American Petroleum Institute.
Boulder Mayor Suzanne Jones spoke out in full defense of the lawsuits, and attacked oil companies in the process, “Our communities and our taxpayers should not shoulder the cost of climate change adaptation alone, these oil companies need to pay their fair share.”
Colorado’s Oil and Gas Association (COGA) put out a statement regarding the lawsuit calling it a “political stunt” and “misguided”.
“This is not a serious way to address climate concerns,” said Dan Haley COGA’s president and CEO. He claimed that it, “improperly seeks to have judges, rather than the appropriate regulatory oversight agencies, decide how much carbon dioxide a company emits. Oil and natural gas operators should not be subject to liability for doing nothing more than engaging in the act of commerce while adhering to our already stringent state and federal laws.”
The communities do have a case according to other climate organizations due to the fact that the oil companies knew in advance of the risk they were placing on the environment.
City staff in Boulder said that EarthRight’s organization will be working with lawyers on this case and are prepping the case pro bono.
Expect this case to not be the only case made by inland counties against gigantic oil companies in the near future, because the number continues to rise.