San Francisco

Oakland, SF Appeal for Reinstatement of Climate Change Lawsuits Against 5 Oil Companies

The cities of San Francisco and Oakland have asked a federal appeals court to reinstate their lawsuits seeking to make five oil companies pay for sea walls and other protections from rising seas.

In a brief filed on Wednesday, the two cities asked the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco to overturn a decision in which U.S. District Judge William Alsup dismissed their public nuisance lawsuits last year.

The two cities also want the appeals court to send the lawsuits back to San Francisco Superior Court and Alameda County Superior Court, where they were originally filed in 2017.

They claim San Ramon-based Chevron Corp. and four other companies created a public nuisance by producing and promoting oil and natural gas fuels while knowing that they lead to global warming and sea level rise.

A hearing on the appeal has not yet been scheduled. The oil companies' reply is due to be filed by April 12.

The cities' lawyers allege in their brief, "Defendants have known for decades that the continued burning of fossil fuels would increase global temperatures and cause devastating impacts on coastal communities like Oakland and San Francisco.

"Yet they continued to wrongfully promote the increased, unrestricted use of their products," the attorneys wrote.

In addition to Chevron, the companies sued are Exxon Mobil Corp., ConocoPhillips, BP PLC, and Royal Dutch Shell PLC. The firms are the world's five largest investor-owned, as opposed to government-owned, oil companies.

At a hearing last year, a Chevron lawyer said the company agrees with the scientific consensus that climate change is real and is primarily caused by human activity, but said the problem is "a global issue that requires global debate and engagement."

The two cities say in their appeal that they are seeking narrow and specific local remedies, such as payment for the cost of sea walls and fortified storm water systems.

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