ExxonMobil plans to counter-sue seven California cities and counties that are seeking compensation from the oil giant for its role in destabilizing the Earth’s climate.
“Seven cities and counties filed lawsuits last year against ExxonMobil and other big oil companies,” recalls SFGate, a San Francisco news outlet, “demanding they pay billions to cover losses from rising seas” and other consequences of climate change.
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The suits allege the fossils knew what the combustion of carbon fuel was doing to the atmosphere and concealed that knowledge, incurring legal liability for the cost of repairing municipal infrastructure damaged by resulting storms and floods.
On Monday, Exxon hit back.
Documents that company attorneys filed with a Texas court charge the California communities with conspiring over six years “to use government investigations and legal action to force oil producers to respond to climate change.”
In the documents, Exxon says it is “planning a lawsuit of its own” against the municipal plaintiffs, SFGate reports, “with potential claims of abuse of process, civil conspiracy, and violations of ExxonMobil’s constitutional rights.”
The company “alleges a conspiracy that goes beyond California to include state attorneys general in New York, Massachusetts, and the Virgin Islands who have also taken legal action against the oil industry,” the paper writes.
John Beiers, legal counsel for one of the California plaintiffs, called it “repugnant that oil companies might sue public servants personally in an attempt to intimidate them from protecting their communities and environment.” His own San Mateo County, Beiers asserted, “will not be intimidated.”
While no Canadian communities that we know of have gone as far as filing a lawsuit against Exxon or its fossil siblings, the 1,900 people of District of Highlands, a small suburb of Victoria, B.C., did send what the district called a “climate accountability” letter to 20 of the world’s biggest oil companies last year, asking them to acknowledge their climate impacts.
“We expect you to take cradle-to-grave responsibility for your product, by taking responsibility for its effects in the atmosphere and the resulting harm to communities,” the district wrote.