California Counties Use Big Tobacco Lawsuit Tactics to Go After Big Oil

From Courthouse News

July 18, 2017July 18, 2017 Big Oil, California, Global warming, Greenhouse gas

Global-warmingLOS ANGELES (CN) — In a legal assault similar to the one that won multibillion-dollar awards from Big Tobacco, two Bay Area counties and a coastal city blamed Chevron, ExxonMobil and three dozen other oil, gas and coal companies for climate change and rising sea levels that threaten communities on the California coast.

In separate lawsuits in separate superior courts, San Mateo and Marin counties and the city of Imperial Beach claim the fuel companies created a public nuisance by hiding for nearly 50 years that fossil fuel production was heating and damaging the earth.

The first-of-their-kind lawsuits accuse the companies of knowingly carrying out a “coordinated, multi-front effort to conceal and deny … those threats” by discrediting scientific evidence about climate change and spreading doubt among the public and regulators.

The defendants — which include, BP, Royal Dutch Shell, Citgo, Conoco Phillips and Peabody Energy (coal) — “promoted and profited from a massive increase” in the use of fossil fuels as that use “caused an enormous, foreseeable, and avoidable increase in global greenhouse gas pollution” that has led to “a wide range of dire climate-related effects, including global warming, rising atmospheric and ocean temperatures, ocean acidification, melting polar ice caps and glaciers, more extreme and volatile weather, and sea level rise,” the plaintiffs say.

None of the fuel companies was available for comment after business hours Monday and none had issued a statement in response to the lawsuits.

The three lawsuits, each just under 100 pages, are largely identical. They were all filed by the San Francisco law firm of Sher Edling, working with San Mateo County Counsel John Beiers, Marin County Counsel Victor M. Sher and Jennifer Love of McDougal, Love, Boehmer, Foley, Lyons & Canlas of La Mesa as city attorney of Ocean Beach. Imperial Beach’s lawsuit was filed in Contra Costa County Court. All the lawsuits were filed on behalf of the plaintiff entities and on behalf of the People of California.

The public nuisance claims are similar the lawsuits that states and cities brought in the 1990s against tobacco companies. But similar lawsuits have fared poorly against energy companies so far.

The Supreme Court blocked a lawsuit by nine states against six major energy company polluters in 2011, and the Ninth Circuit used different grounds in 2012 to toss a suit from a tiny Alaskan village against 22 energy companies.

Each new lawsuit provides about a dozen pages of scientific information, charts and tables showing that the use of fossil fuels exploded over the past 50 years, and tying the increase to rising pollution, temperatures and sea levels.

The municipalities say the 37 defendants “are directly responsible for 227.6 gigatons of CO2 emissions between 1965 and 2015, representing 20.3 percent of total emissions of that potent greenhouse gas during that period.” A gigaton is 1 billion tons.

“Accordingly, defendants are directly responsible for a substantial portion of committed sea level rise … because of the consumption of their fossil fuel products.”

Each lawsuit spends another 30 pages asserting that the defendants, particularly ExxonMobil, knew fossil fuels were warming the globe and raising the sea level as early as the 1960s, but tried to obscure the information to profit from it.

For instance, they say that ExxonMobil and Chevron developed taller, sturdier offshore drilling platforms and planned for structures that could withstand ice forces, “allowing for drilling in previously unreachable Arctic areas that would become seasonally accessible.”

ExxonMobil came under fire after investigative news reports made similar charges in 2015. After those revelations, officials in Massachusetts and New York subpoenaed the company for records related to the allegations.

What Exxon knew and when it knew is came up during Senate hearings to confirm former CEO Rex Tillerson as secretary of state.

Marin, San Mateo and Ocean Beach say rising seas pose a significant threat to them because all are on the coast.

Read the full story here


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Joel Snider
July 19, 2017 12:04 pm

Ah, yes – the false equivalency tactic. Go forward on a presumption, and skip discussion of the presumption altogether.
How many times have you seen THAT one?

Bart Tali
July 19, 2017 12:08 pm

American Electric Power Company Inc., et al.

Reply to  Bart Tali
July 19, 2017 1:16 pm

The justices’ argument is essentially that the plaintiffs did not have standing?
That sounds reasonable. The unanimous decision is that the EPA has proper jurisdiction.

July 19, 2017 12:10 pm

Got to reverse that endangerment finding.

Thomas Homer
Reply to  John D. Smith
July 19, 2017 1:46 pm

If pollution means ‘harmful to life’, and ‘all life as we know it’ is Carbon based, then:
Carbon Pollution is equal to saying: Carbon is harmful to Carbon Based Life Forms
Water Pollution –> something is fouling the water
Air Pollution –> something is fouling the air
Carbon Pollution –> ???

Reply to  Thomas Homer
July 19, 2017 3:53 pm

Carbon pollution: this has been Climate Barbie’s mantra in Canada,as lawyer-trained ( not in science) Minister of the Environment and Climate Change throughout her term. She was appointed in PM Trudeau’s gender-balanced Cabinet… Justin Trudeau of the “let’s pay the guy who killed Chris Speer $105 millions” Trudeau…you know, that guy. Idiots both.

Gunga Din
Reply to  Thomas Homer
July 19, 2017 3:57 pm

Carbon Pollution –> ???

???–> something is fouling the brainwaves?

Reply to  Thomas Homer
July 19, 2017 4:20 pm

Din, Din, Din…ye’re a better man than I am, Gunga Din.

Reply to  John D. Smith
July 19, 2017 4:08 pm

The endangerment finding actually protects the industry from nuisance lawsuits like these.

Bob boder
July 19, 2017 12:12 pm

First that have to show that any damage has been done, good luck with that.

Reply to  Bob boder
July 19, 2017 12:25 pm

Let me guess….none?

Reply to  Craig
July 19, 2017 12:42 pm

They’ll use statistics and megadata and make some up. It doesn’t have to be real or accurate. Jurors are people who are missing Jerry Springer to hear the case.

Gunga Din
Reply to  Craig
July 19, 2017 4:38 pm

Models with lots of makeup.
(Maybe even tree rings in their ears.)

Reply to  Bob boder
July 19, 2017 12:44 pm

No damages, no legal standing…law suit not heard.

Don K
Reply to  rocketscientist
July 19, 2017 1:37 pm

“No damages, no legal standing”
Well yeah, that might be a bit of a problem. As might be the fact that no one thinks SLR in the past 50 years or so has been more than maybe 15cm (6in). But we’re talking lawyers here and making their BMW payments is going to be a bit tough if the lawsuits get thrown out early on. They will, trust me on this, have some strategy to counter their technical lack of standing.
OTOH, the big energy companies employ a few lawyers of their own.

Janice Moore
Reply to  Bob boder
July 19, 2017 1:08 pm

That’s right, Mr. Boder. To have standing to sue, the plaintiff must have suffered a bona fide injury.
The alleged injury:

climate change and rising sea levels

cannot be proven — at all.
They are just wasting their donors’ and taxpayers’ money in filing this claim.

Robert of Ottawa
Reply to  Janice Moore
July 19, 2017 1:21 pm

They hope it is the process that is the punishment. But I don’t think they have the same resources as ESSO, et al.

Reply to  Janice Moore
July 19, 2017 4:22 pm

RoO: Government has all the resources in the world. And they do not have to answer to shareholders. Just bullsh*t the voters.

David A
Reply to  Janice Moore
July 19, 2017 5:45 pm

Calif has had no sea level rise. PERIOD

Reply to  Janice Moore
July 19, 2017 6:36 pm

Sorry Ms Moore, but the plaintiffs’ bona fide injury is “committed” sea level rise. Guess the court will have to keep working the case for about 50 years to see if it is real.

Science or Fiction
Reply to  Janice Moore
July 19, 2017 10:04 pm

And the irony is that Californians suffer much more injury from Climate alarmism than from Climate Change.

Reply to  Bob boder
July 19, 2017 2:10 pm

Along the CA coast there is much more danger of landslides than sea level rising. Consider the stretch of PCH near Monterey that was buried under a recent slide, and a decade ago when the town of La Conchita was wiped out by landslide.

James H
Reply to  Rhee
July 19, 2017 3:42 pm

Rhee….yes.! and both occurrences were due to higher than average rainfall. can that be related to higher CO2 levels ? [ BTW , I don’t like the ‘carbon’ reference…Carbon is a black solid , having many industrial uses. CO2 is a gas, critical to plant life.]

Reply to  Rhee
July 19, 2017 4:13 pm

More oil has naturally seeped into the ocean off of Santa Barbara County than anywhere from 80 to 120 Exxon VALDEZ spills. It is still seeping, along with Methane and other chemicals. Flew over the channel last week and one can see the oil sheens off of the seeps, drifting in the currents. Who can I sue????

Joel Snider
Reply to  Bob boder
July 20, 2017 12:10 pm

That’s what virtual reality is for.

Bob boder
July 19, 2017 12:13 pm

first they

Bryan A
July 19, 2017 12:13 pm

And just how much, exactly, did the Plaintiffs benefit from their utilization of the defendant’s product over the last 50 years??

Reply to  Bryan A
July 19, 2017 12:42 pm

Yes…The Whore and the John..Equal responsibilty…

Reply to  Bryan A
July 19, 2017 12:56 pm

If you want to be picky, the production of oil doesn’t produces insignificant amounts of greenhouse gasses. The burning of fossil fuels by the consumer does.
John D. Rockefeller with his cans of Standard Oil should be a hero to anyone that wants to “Save the Whales”

Reply to  Stephen Rasey
July 19, 2017 3:38 pm

Very appreciated. Thanks for the history.

Reply to  Stephen Rasey
July 19, 2017 10:14 pm

Great ironic twist to explode some yuppie Green heads. What did kerosene and other petroleum-based lighting fuels replace? All-natural whale blubber!

G. Karst
Reply to  Stephen Rasey
July 20, 2017 9:26 am

Also saved our forests… thanks fossil fuel! GK

July 19, 2017 12:17 pm

Wonder how much the People’s Republik Of Kalifornia would scream if the energy companies suddenly decided to stop selling oil, gas, and natural gas in the stat?. Just cut them off.

South River Independent
Reply to  Severian
July 19, 2017 12:24 pm

That might be a good way to show the benefits of fossil fuels prior to trial. Present a before and after analysis at trial.

Reply to  Severian
July 19, 2017 12:43 pm

I keep telling people this would solve the problem immediately. However, since oil company execs have the same amount courage as the Republicans do, they won’t go there. As long as they can still make tons of money, it will not happen. Oil does not care.

Reply to  Severian
July 19, 2017 2:54 pm

Well, that might not be so easy, considering that CA is a big producer of petroleum and its refined products. There are several large refineries just south of Los Angeles, and a big one in Richmond near San Francisco. We are pumping oil hand over fist from the region, and off-shore rigs dot the coast line as well.
Hard to keep oil from selling in CA seeing that this is where a good bit of it comes from.

Reply to  rocketscientist
July 19, 2017 6:31 pm

Don’t stop selling oil and oil products in California, just the three counties that are footing the court battles.

Reply to  Severian
July 19, 2017 6:39 pm

But that would consitute a conspiracy in restraint of trade. Then they could be sued for that.

James at 48
Reply to  Severian
July 20, 2017 4:56 pm

Or if they stopped operating period. There are plenty of jobs here in the “awl bidness” – prospecting, drilling, extraction, transport, refining. Oh, and Chevron HQ … can’t forget that.

Robert of Texas
July 19, 2017 12:18 pm

Well, to some degree the oil companies that have jumped on the Green band wagon deserve this. Hypocrisy deserves hypocrisy. I hope they sue the crap out of themselves… LOL
Oh, wait, I hate lawyers too…they get rich. Never mind.
Meanwhile the innocent “*I just want to drill for oil” companies should be left out.

Curious George
Reply to  Robert of Texas
July 19, 2017 12:27 pm

The legal system needs an adjustment to stop frivolous lawsuits. How about “a losing plaintiff must pay defendant’s legal expenses”? That should also make a health care more affordable.

Reply to  Curious George
July 19, 2017 3:50 pm

Congress and the state legislatures are between 90 and 95% made up of lawyers.
No way any law that cuts back on the income of lawyers would ever pass.

Reply to  Curious George
July 19, 2017 3:54 pm

It’s that way in some countries……….

Reply to  Curious George
July 19, 2017 4:27 pm

I have long advocated for just such a law. Or at least requiring plaintiffs to post a bond equal to the economic loss due to the pendency of the lawsuit if they do not win; pro rata damages for nominal win.

Reply to  Curious George
July 19, 2017 10:47 pm

Or at least a time limit on how long a civil case can stay open. One year from the date of the plaintiff’s original filing. Cases that time out before a verdict is reached would be automatically found in favor of the defendant and the plaintiff fined for wasting the court’s time.
Ancient Athenian courts had a variation of this for certain civil cases, where the plaintiff would be fined if less than 1/3 of the jury voted in his favor. (Athenien juries consisted anywhere from 300-1000 citizens and verdicts were decided by majority vote.)

Reply to  Curious George
July 20, 2017 10:04 pm

“a losing plaintiff must pay defendant’s legal expenses”
That is how it works in smart countries, like Australia. Oh, wait we have South Australia. Make that “smart, once upon a time.”

James Francisco
Reply to  Robert of Texas
July 19, 2017 1:41 pm

Robert. You might find this joke humorous. The reason they bury lawers 12 feet deep is because deep down they’re not so bad.

July 19, 2017 12:19 pm

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Reply to  Latitude
July 19, 2017 12:32 pm

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John M
Reply to  Latitude
July 19, 2017 1:26 pm

Exactly, what sea level rise? Also, I live in Marin County and there isn’t anything that can be damaged by a Tsunami.

David A
Reply to  Latitude
July 19, 2017 5:56 pm

Calif has had no sea level rise. PERIOD
Also, no change in ANY rate before amy possible GHE.

Curious George
July 19, 2017 12:23 pm

Stop selling all oil products in these counties.

July 19, 2017 12:23 pm

California will be a fun place to live with no fuel of any type available. All of the plaitiffs will stop doing business in the state while the litigation drags on.

Reply to  Stephana
July 19, 2017 12:48 pm

No, they won’t. They just raise the cost of fuel and pass it on. Drug companies, tobacco companies and oil companies just factor lawsuits into their business expenses. Tobacco suffered virtually no damage. People still smoke—on TV and everywhere. The harm continues, but it’s not about harm. It’s about stealing money from a corporation. It’s actually pretty simple—corporations just pass on the cost and you end up costing the people of the US. They have no recourse to stop the process, except give up tobacco, medicine and heat. It’s income redistribution through courts. Dead people don’t matter—you can keep right on polluting, etc, and having people die. As long as you pay the money.

Roger Graves
Reply to  Sheri
July 19, 2017 1:14 pm

I’m not too familiar with the US Constitution, but I believe that only Congress can levy taxes. However, it appears that now the judiciary can levy taxes as well.
After the Big Tobacco lawsuits, several hundred billion dollars in damages were levied on the tobacco companies. Now, all the tobacco companies together, on a good day, are worth less than one hundred billion. No problem, the money was raised by increasing the price of each cigarette. So today, when you buy a pack if cigarettes, part of what you pay goes to the government. This is called a tax (if it walks like a duck and swims like a duck and quacks like a duck, it is a duck). However, this tax was mandated by an action of the judiciary, not by Congress. Strange that Congress, to the best of my knowledge, has never objected to this usurpation of their rights.
It would seem that the judiciary is girding its loins to do the same again, since the precedent has already been set.

Gerald Machnee
Reply to  Sheri
July 19, 2017 1:59 pm

**No, they won’t. They just raise the cost of fuel and pass it on.**
That would not make the point. I would shut down all shipments of fuel to California until they see the light. Let us see how they run on solar.

Reply to  Sheri
July 19, 2017 2:18 pm

Gerald: Yes, but there’s not an oil corporation out there with the balls to do that.
Roger: Congress objected to the individual mandate and the fine associated with it in Obamacare, so the Supreme Court called it a tax and ran it through the IRS. Congress is basically ornamental, except they have the check book. Of course, they never balk at spending and never balance the checkbook. When Obama was in, Obama was king. Now that Trump is in, the courts rule the US.

Reply to  Sheri
July 19, 2017 11:13 pm

Only SCOTUS has constitutional authority to exist independently of the other branches. All lower federal courts exist solely at the pleasure of Congress. A bill to defund, disband, and restructure the entire lower court system? Now that would be a real nuclear option.

Reply to  Stephana
July 19, 2017 3:07 pm

See my earlier post regarding the fact that CA is a large petroleum producer. You can’t cut CA off. It makes it’s own oil, gasoline, and CNG.
And no, the plaintiffs won’t stop doing business in CA either, even IF the suit continues, they are located here.

Dan the Man
Reply to  rocketscientist
July 20, 2017 8:05 am

Rocketscience … CA does not make it’s own oil, gasoline and CNG. Not yet, not until the state takes over (socializes) the companies that in fact do own the oil, gasoline, and the resources to get it out the ground, and to market. CA might be willing to do that and it fact might have to, to be able to afford their own idiocy. But that didn’t work well for Venezuala.

Harry Passfield
July 19, 2017 12:24 pm

Simple: The court – if it gets that far – should rule that the verdict will be dependent on the state of sea-level in, what, 70 years’ time. And if it has caused the ‘damage’ claimed the case is proved. But if not, the descendants of the plaintiffs should pay up.

July 19, 2017 12:24 pm

So why doesn’t California do more to Reduce Global Warming and Reduce CO2 Emissions and Create Water? It is simply done by Increasing it’s Natural Gas Energy Efficiency. Instead of venting all the hot combusted exhaust into the atmosphere, recover the heat energy and utilize it, and vent cool exhaust. Some days the exhaust can even be cooler than the outside air temperature. We call that mass cooling.
For every 1 million Btu’s of heat energy that is recovered and utilized from the exhaust, 117 lbs of CO2 will not be put into the atmosphere.
In every 1 million Btu’s of natural gas that is combusted are 5 gallons of distilled water. Today most of that water is being vented into the atmosphere where it will come down as rain in the Mid West and on the East Coast.
Californians want to drive to work or where ever.We need natural gas to produce electricity and to be warm or cool. We want to eat those foods and drink beverages that are processed by those industries. We need those industries to stay in California and employ people here.
Who is paying these lawyers? It better not be the taxpayers, those employed by the above, and who want to drive to work.

Fred van der Velden
July 19, 2017 12:30 pm

Al Gore, Michael Mann and Jim Hansen to be called in as “expert witnesses”, if it were ever to come to a case in Court. That would be something!
Then the Oil Co’s could counter that with Nils-Axel Morner, Christopher Monckton, Richard Lindzen and a few more to finally start a Debate under Oath. Sparks will fly! Pretty easy to demonstrate that none of these “experts” was able to forecast with any kind of precision what the climate would do on any time scale so far. Failed miserably, all of them. Could be the final nail in the coffin for the alarmists. Most of the accused have been bending over backwards to please the Greens for years, little love was returned for that apparently.
But as the article already indicated, this case will probably be thrown out.

Reply to  Fred van der Velden
July 19, 2017 4:31 pm

Jim Hansen predicted that the Major Degan would be underwater in…what, 2000? Bring in a photo of the expressway and display it while he testifies.

Reply to  Fred van der Velden
July 20, 2017 12:44 am

Big Al and his global warming gang all in court together! Will Mr. Mann finally unleash his data and prove us all wrong? Will ‘big oil’ be going for costs? I can’t wait to watch this all on YouTube. Oh, and what about poor old King Coal. Must be miffed having not been invited to the party.
I live here in the boring old UK but boy do I love California. Always something new. Never a dull moment!

Tom Halla
July 19, 2017 12:34 pm

A lawsuit on rising sea levels was a major plot element in Michael Crichton’s “State of Fear”. Without major aid from the government in general, as there was in the tobacco lawsuit, it is a loser case.

Bruce Cobb
July 19, 2017 12:40 pm

More and more, the Greenie scumbags are resorting to lawfare, in a last-ditch effort to save their Greenie ideology.

July 19, 2017 12:44 pm

lol- it’s not like they believe their argument. they just see how they can be a spoiler and get a settlement.
this is the price of appeasement on the part of the oil company CEOs. they act weak and they are identified as prey.
now, backed into a corner, will they finally stop trying to placate? it can’t be done. will they learn the hard way?

Reply to  gnomish
July 19, 2017 12:50 pm

Never. They just factor the costs in and consumers pay for it.

Bruce Cobb
Reply to  gnomish
July 19, 2017 1:01 pm

You can bet your bippy these lawsuits are being backed by those wanting to push the Greenie agenda. And if successful, guess what, they now have precedence. And prepare for an onslaught of these bogus lawsuits.

Reply to  Bruce Cobb
July 19, 2017 6:36 pm

yup- cuz the theory of ‘precedents’ is that 500 wrongs make it right!

Clay Sanborn
July 19, 2017 12:45 pm

Three Cheers For Oil/Gas/Coal!!! Maybe the oil, gas, and coal industries could sue the state of California for suing them, when the oil, gas, coal industries have given the state’s citizens one of the highest (once The highest) standard of living in the world. These industries are also credited for playing a critical role in winning WWII. Americans owe these industries a debt of gratitude for consistently (let’s forget 1973, eh…) providing economically critical products to the American public as Americans have demanded. CA, and all states should give these industries a parade.

Janice Moore
Reply to  Clay Sanborn
July 19, 2017 4:38 pm

And a WAY-TO-GO, Nuclear Power!, too. 🙂

Clay Sanborn
Reply to  Janice Moore
July 19, 2017 5:07 pm

Yes, it goes without saying, well almost. 🙂

July 19, 2017 12:50 pm

Anyone who uses “climate” and “CO2 ” in the same sentence is an activist. They must be confronted. They’re also licking their chops over the “opiod” settlement in the not-too-distant future.

Reply to  Wharfplank
July 19, 2017 12:53 pm

That sounds interesting. The down side might be all the people in pain who are not going to be in favor of living in extreme pain just to make politicians and leaders richer. Never mess with people who have nothing to lose—it does not end well.

July 19, 2017 12:52 pm

Reply to  ossqss
July 19, 2017 1:12 pm

That “One minute Physics” was excellent! The only thing it missed was tradewinds and tides. But it was thorough in the complex gravity field. I especially liked that bit about how the complex models avoid such problems as a GPS receiver telling you that you are 100 feet below sea level when on the beach in Sri Lanka.
I was recently exposed to this problem when visiting the Royal Observatory in Greenwich England. My iPhone Compass app said that the Prime Meridian marker was at longitude 0d 0′ 05″ west. Ric Werme told me the problem was the gravitational vertical, by which the observatory’s telescopes depended upon for their observations, does not pass through the geodetic center of the earth. The GPS references use a plane through the center and meets the observatory’s prime meridian somewhere in space. As a result, the GPS prime meridian is about 100 feet east of the marker in the observatory’s ground.

James Francisco
Reply to  Stephen Rasey
July 19, 2017 2:10 pm

Thanks for that explanation Stephen. I was using Google Maps to look at the Prime Meridian in Greenwich and noticed something a miss. I thought it must have been an error of the maps not matching the earth actual position but didn’t know why. I have learned more about just about everything from this blog.

July 19, 2017 12:58 pm

Is that the stench of an Eric Holder that I smell from a distance?

July 19, 2017 1:01 pm

f* me running;these are some damned stupid people…

Reply to  dmacleo
July 19, 2017 3:10 pm

not stupid, disingenuous and desperate to suckle at the teat with the rest of the grubbers.

July 19, 2017 1:08 pm

California is a weird entity. They are one of the biggest users of Fossil Fuel in the World
Arguably California are the worlds Fossil Fuel Gluttons.
The rest of the world just shake their heads when California talks Pollution.
California would have to be the worlds premier polluters in every conceivable way.

July 19, 2017 1:10 pm

“in the use of fossil fuels as that use “caused an enormous, foreseeable, and avoidable increase in global greenhouse gas pollution” that has led to “a wide range of dire climate-related effects, including global warming, rising atmospheric and ocean temperatures, ocean acidification, melting polar ice caps and glaciers, more extreme and volatile weather, and sea level rise,” the plaintiffs say.”
So show the proof! Should be interesting. Having said as some one already stated oil companies will still make money no matter what so will as usual just roll over and play dead.

July 19, 2017 1:20 pm

Environmentalists vs organic black blob. Strange optics.

Dr. Bob
July 19, 2017 1:24 pm

If this was truly a serious matter in California, a lot of things would change. When I was in Anaheim, Rock & Brews was burning NG for decorative flames in front of the restaurant 24/7. Talk about a waste that can be corrected immediately (if this was a real crisis!). But seeing as this isn’t a REAL crisis, nothing is done about it in the state that claims to want to save the planet from fossil fuels. The hypocrisy will continue until all meaningful jobs are lost.
I was dealing with SCAQMD a few years ago, and their chief scientist said that they had to shut down all businesses in the basin to prevent NOx emissions. I was sorely tempted to tell him that he would not have a job if taxes were not available to pay him. But that probably was too deep a topic for him to understand.
I am so glad I left CA in the 1990’s before this insane mentality really took over. Now I can watch it from afar.

Michael Cox
July 19, 2017 1:30 pm

We’re here, just outnumbered…

July 19, 2017 1:36 pm

I’m here….don’t launch the nukes at us just yet please. 🙂

Reply to  rocketscientist
July 19, 2017 2:13 pm

we’ll tell you when we’ve evacuated so you can launch then 😉

James H
Reply to  rocketscientist
July 19, 2017 3:49 pm

Just target the coastal cities.! Those of us who live inland and in the foothills are all Rep., sane, working folks.

July 19, 2017 1:36 pm

This is nothing more than a shakedown. Tobacco companies are doing just fine and have revenues in the $700 million range in the US. The states collect an equivalent amount in taxes on tobacco product ever since winning to tobacco lawsuit. Energy companies are a $ trillion market segment. Some US states have wanted to raise gas taxes to European levels for years but the pushback from voters is just too great. This lawsuit is nothing more than a vailed attempt to raise energy taxes indirectly through the cover of penalties on energy companies. There is no desire to put the energy companies out of business, just like there is little desire to put tobacco companies out of business. State and local government just want the revenue.

July 19, 2017 1:39 pm

Life is fatal. How about suing the self-nominated representatives of the creator? /sarc

Reply to  jaakkokateenkorva
July 19, 2017 3:29 pm

The Man Who Sued God

Reply to  1saveenergy
July 19, 2017 11:40 pm

Not only have documentaries turned out comedies, but who’d thought vice versa?

July 19, 2017 1:39 pm

Where to begin? Maybe we should start here, at the root claim:
“The public nuisance claims are similar the lawsuits that states and cities brought in the 1990s against tobacco companies.”
It’s important to note no empirical evidence was ever presented demonstrating, unequivocally, that tobacco was a public health risk. Barring the idea that tobacco may have been an unproven personal health risk, allegations of a public health risk in the form of “secondary smoke” was woefully absent proof of any kind.
But it moves even further. Much as the alleged “cause” of Anthropogenic Global Warming (AGW) has been laid at the feet of CO2, so was the rise in lung cancer laid at the feet of tobacco. Both were presented in the complete absence of any attribution study.
The purpose of an attribution study is to confirm cause; this is to say an attribution study accepts there is a correlation between, for example, smoking and lung cancer, but it goes on to demonstrate cause; it shows smoking causes cancer, not just that a rise in smoking is mathematically related to a rise in cancers. It demonstrates cause.
At the same time lung cancer rates were rising, above ground nuclear testing was also rising. Inhalation of radioactive plutonium is well known to cause cancers in humans. Oddly enough, as above ground nuclear testing stopped, the rates of lung cancers also declined.
Correlation, or simple coincidence?

Reply to  Bartleby
July 19, 2017 2:28 pm

The tobacco win was based on civil RICO after a showing that the tobacco cmanies had,imdeed conspired to hide the negative affects of smoking. This suit is on a very different premise, and will fail for three reasons. 1. The complaint predicts 17.4feet of SLR by 2100. Clearly wrongly modeled and such model damgages in the future are not subject financial penalties in the present. Injunctive relief might be possible, except. 2. Big Oil is not responsible for China /India coal. Wrong defendants. 3. San Fransisco Bay sea level isn’t rising much.
What these nutters wiil do, however, is provide another courtroom platform for exposing the shlocky climate science.

July 19, 2017 1:42 pm

All this indicates is that they foresaw a potential for expanding into previously unavailable regions, not that they caused the change.
This would be like blaming an individual because he brought an umbrella to the picnic and thereby caused the rain.
hey, lawyers want to suck up to the climate gravy trough too….

Reply to  rocketscientist
July 19, 2017 1:44 pm

Skipped insertion of the initial quote:
For instance, they say that ExxonMobil and Chevron developed taller, sturdier offshore drilling platforms and planned for structures that could withstand ice forces, “allowing for drilling in previously unreachable Arctic areas that would become seasonally accessible.”

Reply to  rocketscientist
July 19, 2017 7:26 pm

With global warming, wouldn’t that make the sturdier structures redundant?

Reply to  rocketscientist
July 19, 2017 6:56 pm

there is precedent.
see what judge Learned Hand (not joking) had to say about Alcoa purchasing bauxite mines to ensure their supply.
so they were busted hard. it was so unfair to plan ahead. it put those who didn’t at a serious disadvantage.

Science or Fiction
July 19, 2017 2:25 pm

There are greater similarities between the climate alarmists and the tobacco industry than it is between The Oil industry and the tobacco industry. To my surprise, the actions by United Nations fitted quite well the actions of the Tobacco industry (Warning – this is a piece of fiction):
Here are the Final findings of the court in the racketeering lawsuit against the major cigarette manufacturers: The U.S. Government’s racketeering case against Big Tobacco
This is my edited version adapted to United Nations climate alarmism:
Based on the evidence presented in a hypothetical case against United Nations, the court may rule that:
– United Nations knew for fifty years or more that CO2 is primarily a plant fertilizer, but repeatedly stated that CO2 caused adverse climate change. United Nations publicly distorted and maximized the hazards of CO2 for decades.
– United Nations concealed and suppressed research data and other evidence showing CO2 has little effect on climate, and withheld information from the public and governments.
– United Nations acted this way to maintain revenue by keeping people alarmed and attracting new supporters, to avoid liability, and prevent reformation of the United Nations.
– United Nations falsely denied that they can and do control the information intended to create and sustain climate change alarmism.
– United Nations falsely marketed and promoted CO2 emission as harmful, to keep governments alarmed to sustain and increase the revenue to United Nations for administration of the climate funds and arbitrary projects financed by these funds.
– From the 1980s to the present, United Nations, using different methods, have intentionally marketed CO2 as harmful to young people under the age of 21 in order to recruit “replacement alarmists” who would ensure the future economic viability of the United Nations.
– United Nations publicly denied, while internally acknowledging, that energy poverty is hazardous to the poor.
– At various times, United Nations attempted to, and did suppress and conceal scientific research relevant to their public.

July 19, 2017 2:34 pm

What a waste of public resources.

Reply to  Robber
July 20, 2017 1:12 am

Indeed. Local residents in these counties/city should sue the respective authorities for abusing public funds.

July 19, 2017 2:38 pm

Worth remembering that when it came to tobacco the law firms made very big money indeed. So big that those involved never had to work again and could live in serious luxury. So if these guy think they can get a similar pay day they will not give up easily.

July 19, 2017 3:13 pm

Plaintiffs conjecture that the defendants know/knew, 1960’s, that harm would be likely … CONJECTURE. Plaintiffs need to prove their conjecture.
Plaintiffs & State of California, KNOW and have known (for the last 20 years), that harm (as associated with subject product) is imminent; and yet they continued to profit off the product, and encourage the use of the product. The State, Counties, & Cities make a lot of money through taxes and permit licensing for cars, oil wells, sales taxes, etc..
Plaintiffs and the State of California are putting together the basis of a good future nuisance lawsuit against themselves … it is a lot easier to prove negligence & malfeasance when one party stands up and admits that they are absolutely sure that there was a problem, yet they continued to ignore it for the sake of profit for the last 20 years.

Neil Jordan
July 19, 2017 3:24 pm

This will be an interesting trial if it gets to court, because California has already de facto adopted a sea level rise that would jeopardize the state’s own argument. The adopted sea level is 0.9 ft by 100 years from 1987, or very roughly a foot by 2100. See my response to WUWT “Recent Sea Level Changes at Major Cities at
Are there any arguments in the state’s favor? Two, if you accept cognitive dissonance.
1. Sea level rise will be lumpy. Locations a few hundred feet from each other will experience sea level rises several feet different.
2. The difference between measured sea level rise and prophesied sea level rise is “Latent Sea Level Rise.” Latent sea level rise is stored somewhere, perhaps the abyssal ocean, along with the missing heat. The coastal zone will be regulated based on prophecy, not reality.
My WUWT comment is reproduced below:
Neil Jordan March 29, 2017 at 2:18 pm
The plethora of numbers, predictions, projections, and whatnot are just that. Someone,
somewhere, will need to actually build something. Someone will need to make an
engineering decision to roll up his sleeve and scoop some numbers out of the stinking
quagmire of marginal statistics and use them to build something.
That happened in 2000, for a project that needed to consider future sea level rise.
The envelope, please.
(Opens envelope with great drama)
The winner is 0.9 ft by 2087.
Documentation is here:
Final EIR/EIS for the Bolsa Chica Lowlands Restoration Project
Appendix B – Preliminary Engineering Studies Section B.3.1.4 Hydraulic Control
“The National Council Marine Board (NMCB) has provided sea level rise predictions
over the next hundred years as summarized in Table B-4. For the 100-year interval, 0.9
feet would be added to the tailwater elevation. . .”
Interval (Years) Sea Level Rise (feet)
5 –
25 0.2
50 0.5
100 0.9
Source: NMCB, 1987

Tab Numlock
July 19, 2017 3:33 pm

The should send CA a bill for the increased ag yields.

Crispin in Waterloo
Reply to  Tab Numlock
July 20, 2017 5:57 am

Tab N
Your point is acknowledged. The social benefits or carbon would have to be considered as well. If there are negative consequences from the combustion of ‘fossil fuels’ then the benefits were also known, to the individual consumers as well.
The basic claim is that ‘they knew there would be climate harm and suppressed it’. It is not illegal to suppress such ‘information’, more properly called speculations, as there was no assessment at the time about what the ‘warming’ might be.
What penalty was applied to the global collusion to make light bulbs burn out in less than one thousand hours, a scam which ran from 1925 to 1995 involving every major manufacturer in the world?
What penalty was applied to the global collusion to make lead acid batteries standard for all vehicular applications, suppressing (by buying and burying) patents for zinc-air batteries?
If those smoking guns yielded nothing, how about going after farmers? Farming causes a huge change in the net CO2 emissions of land (insects, forest clearing).
Judith Curry’s approach is more direct: prove the temperature rise 1920-1940 was not caused by human emissions and that the identical rise 1976-1996 was.
After all, the damage is not CO2 per se but the claimed temperature rise leading to increased sea level, right?
The chain is: CO2 leads to a temperature rise leads to sea level rise. The data available shows a correlation coefficient through that chain that is pathetically small. Something like 0.53*0.50.

July 19, 2017 3:44 pm

If it goes to court, all 37 energy company’s should refuse to supply California with any products derived from fossil fuels…. until their names are cleared by the court.
Let them run on ‘green energy’ ( a week of blackouts should do it), no plastics, no fuel for transport, no oil for lubrication, no food, no pharmaceuticals,…..
A good test of the brave new ‘green’ world.

July 19, 2017 3:47 pm

Hopefully the courts will award the oil companies court costs when this disaster is over.

July 19, 2017 3:53 pm

Look at this story line, also from the Sacbee. It is a video of Brown giving a celebratory speech on the passage of renewal of cap and trade. …”Jerry Brown says climate change deal resulted from mystery, miracle and prayer.”, …

Janice Moore
Reply to  goldminor
July 19, 2017 4:24 pm

Well, at least Mr. Brown makes it very clear who we science realists’ enemy is.

…. our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.

Ephesians 6:12.
Thus, while the excellent research and writing of the science giants of WUWT (and elsewhere) are vital, our most effective weapon for truth will be: prayer. And not to the person Brown, et al. prayed to.
How do I know Brown was not praying to God? AGW is based on lies. Not mere honest mistakes, but carefully constructed lies. (See, e.g., Climategate 2009 documents) God does not lie. Thus, it is to the Father of Lies that Brown prays.
And why even dignify Brown’s hideous prayers with a comment on them?
Because the power he invokes is real.

The devil led {Jesus} up to a high place and showed him in an instant all the kingdoms of the world. And he said to him, ‘I will give you all their authority and splendor, for it has been given to me, and I can give it to anyone I want to.
So if you worship me, it will all be yours.’

Luke 4:5-7
Take heart, nevertheless! #(:))

…. the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world.

I. John 4:4
God allows evil to triumph…. for a day…..
In the end: truth wins.

July 19, 2017 3:59 pm

This may be a blessing in disguise by releasing evidence being hidden from the public.

Janice Moore
Reply to  markl
July 19, 2017 4:31 pm

Great point, MarkL. Thus, we know such lawsuits are merely done to harass and also to try to shore up the crumbling AGW sand castle (i.e., create the false impression in the public’s mind that AGW is truth and a noble cause to keep the wind and solar and Tesla/battery car and like sc@ms’ contrived market share regulations and the subsidies going). For discovery would be devastating to the AGWist’s. Their “science” would be seen for the junk it is.

Mr Bliss
Reply to  Janice Moore
July 19, 2017 6:17 pm

If harassment is the motivation here, it is a fatal mistake. Mann may be able to harass individual scientists and writers with law suits, but no one can seriously believe that global companies will be bullied in this way. I’m hoping Big Oil goes for an early trial date, and destroys the man made global warming meme in court, where many GW scientists will have to be coached in how to answer truthfully, under oath.

July 19, 2017 4:32 pm

Discovery will be very interesting. Bring it on!

Gunga Din
July 19, 2017 4:47 pm

A tobacco-type lawsuit? The only winners will be the lawyers.

Gunga Din
Reply to  Gunga Din
July 19, 2017 4:53 pm

Remember John Edwards?

Reply to  Gunga Din
July 19, 2017 11:55 pm

Remember Jarndyce and Jarndyce, too. (And Charles Dickens based it on a real court case, with a similar ultimate result.)

July 19, 2017 4:54 pm

During the previous interglacial period, the Eemian, temperatures were warmer than they are today with more ice cap melting and higher sea levels. Man’s burning of fossil fuels could not possible have caused climate change during the Eemian, more than 110,000 years ago. Mother nature was the culprit then and is still the one responsible for today’s climate change. Even more recently other warm periods during the Holocene have been warmer than the Modern Warm period and the burning of fossil fuels could not possilbe have been the cause. Rather then suing the oil companies, they should be suing Mother Nature. Lots of luck collecting a judgement against Mother Nature.
Based on the paleoclimate record and modeling results, one can coonclude that the climate change we have been experiencing today is caused by the sun and the oceans over which Mankind has no control. There is no real evidence that CO2 has any effect on climate and p[lenty of rational to support the idea that the climate sensivity of CO2 is zerol If CO2 really effected climate then the increase in CO2 over the past 30 years should have caused at least a measureable increase in the dry lapse rate in the troposphere but that has not happened. The AGW conjecture is based on a radiant greenhose effect that has not been observed on Earth or anywhere else in the solar system. The radiant greenhouse effect and the AGW conjecture are hence science fiction.
If CO2 is really the problem then they should be suing those who have been actually adding it to the air, the consumer. It is the consumer that supplies the money that keeps the fossil fuel companies in business. It is the consumer that actually adds CO2 to the atmosphere by burning the fossil fuel that they bought from the fossil fuel suppliers. If CO2 is so bad then governent should make it illegal to add it to our atmosphere in any quantity but they have not done that. The fossil fuel companies by selling fossil fuel have not been breaking any laws here. Government further supports the sale and use of fossil fuels by taxing it. Beyond suing Mother Nature they should sue government and then the consumer. Anyone who breathes is guilty of adding CO2 to the atmosphere and should be named in the law suite,

July 19, 2017 4:58 pm

The simple answer is to give California what it’s asking for. Zero fossil fuels or fossil fuelled energy for a trial month.

Pat Frank
July 19, 2017 5:19 pm

San Francisco CA sea level trend: No change since 1850
Redwood City Ca sea level trend (SF Bay) Spotty record, but no evident change since 1975.
Monterey CA sea level trend: (San Mateo coast) No change since 1975.
Where’s their case?

Reply to  Pat Frank
July 19, 2017 5:31 pm

Pat Frank, thank you very much for providing us with three data points from California. Now, considering the fact that the Earth is 25,000 miles in circumference is it possible for you to give us maybe two of three data points that are not in California?

Gunga Din
Reply to  David Dirkse
July 19, 2017 5:57 pm

California is suing on behalf of China? Japan? Ireland? Iceland? Tuvalu?
California doesn’t have a case. What case would those have?

Pat Frank
Reply to  David Dirkse
July 20, 2017 10:50 am

As Gunga Din pointed out, David, those points are in the regions from which the lawsuit was filed.
They’re filing for damages due to GHG-emissions-caused sea level rise. There is no such rise in evidence.
Where are the grounds for their case?

Reply to  Pat Frank
July 20, 2017 11:41 am

For the record, Monterey is in Monterey County, not San Mateo.

Pat Frank
Reply to  Bartleby
July 21, 2017 9:48 am

You’re right Bartleby. My oversight. Same coast, though. 🙂

chris moffatt
July 19, 2017 5:23 pm

Same old crap different coast. Much of San Francisco bay along the waterfront is built on landfill which is, of course, slowly compacting. It isn’t the water rising it’s the land sinking. And if these greenieloons would look at the liquefaction hazard maps for the San Francisco area (available on theUSGS website), they’d see that alleged climate change and sea level rise are not their real problem.

Reply to  chris moffatt
July 20, 2017 12:07 am

So a good part of SF is built on what’s essentially instant quicksand, just add enough earthquake to the right (wrong?) spots.

Mr Bliss
July 19, 2017 6:07 pm

So – “two Bay Area counties and a coastal city blamed Chevron, ExxonMobil and three dozen other oil, gas and coal companies for climate change and rising sea levels that threaten communities on the California coast.blamed Chevron, ExxonMobil and three dozen other oil, gas and coal companies for climate change and rising sea levels that threaten communities on the California coast”
Does that mean that neighbouring states, who may provide California with power generated by fossil fuels, will now be re-considering their position in light of this legal action?

Leo Smith
July 20, 2017 1:42 am

As a fully paid up ‘climate denier’ I am glad this case has been filed.
Because if in the unlikely event it succeeds, we will all know just how corrupt the US legislature has become. And with Trump as president that will be an excuse to change it.
If it fails, it will be because the ‘evidence’ simply doesn’t come up to legal standards, and that will send a huge message to everyone, that AGW is absolutely ‘not proven’

July 20, 2017 2:19 am

These baseless lawsuits show why the energy companies’ strategy of acquiescence to global warming propaganda was wrong from the start.
Exxon et al DID NOT knowingly enable “a wide range of dire climate-related effects, including global warming, rising atmospheric and ocean temperatures, ocean acidification, melting polar ice caps and glaciers, more extreme and volatile weather, and sea level rise,” because none of those dire consequences are actually true – they are scary stories fabricated by global warming propagandists to frighten gullible imbeciles.
The CEO’s of these energy companies DID knowingly acquiesce to false global warming propaganda because they thought it was good politics – easier to “go along” with the false warmist propaganda than to speak out against it. Now they are reaping the rewards of their own incompetence.
We knew decades ago that global warming alarmism was false. We confidently wrote in 2002:
[PEGG, reprinted in edited form at their request by several other professional journals , the Globe and Mail and la Presse in translation, by Baliunas, Patterson and MacRae].
“Climate science does not support the theory of catastrophic human-made global warming – the alleged warming crisis does not exist.”
“The ultimate agenda of pro-Kyoto advocates is to eliminate fossil fuels, but this would result in a catastrophic shortfall in global energy supply – the wasteful, inefficient energy solutions proposed by Kyoto advocates simply cannot replace fossil fuels.”
Our two above statements are now demonstrably true, to a high degree of certainty.

Mickey Reno
Reply to  Allan M.R. MacRae
July 20, 2017 6:14 am

Yes, and it is equally awful that the natural gas interests joined with anti-fossil fuel environmentalists to subtly attack their competitors in the coal fired generation industry. That’s some short sighted thinking that will come back to bite them on the ass at some indefinite point in the future, IMO.

richard verney
July 20, 2017 3:24 am

Just in case other commentators have not posted a link, THIS IS A MUST WATCH VIDEO presentation.

Dr. Strangelove
July 20, 2017 6:43 am

“Accordingly, defendants are directly responsible for a substantial portion of committed sea level rise … because of the consumption of their fossil fuel products.”
So the seawater promised to expand but has not yet expanded suspending the law of physics. Sue 7 billion people on Earth including yourselves for consuming fossil fuel products.
“Each lawsuit spends another 30 pages asserting that the defendants, particularly ExxonMobil, knew fossil fuels were warming the globe and raising the sea level as early as the 1960s, but tried to obscure the information to profit from it.”
ExxonMobil did not know the globe was warming in the 1960s because the globe was cooling from 1940s to 1970s. The accusers imagine the globe was warming in the 1960s to obscure the data to profit from it.

richard verney
Reply to  Dr. Strangelove
July 20, 2017 9:54 am

Also at that time, ie., around 1970, the accepted position as detailed by NASA/GISS was that there was very low Climate Sensitivity to CO2. See the Schneider et al paper published in Science Volume 173.
This paper calculated that even an 8 fold increase in CO2 would result in less than 2degC of warming The paper even concluded/accepted that an 8 fold increase in CO2 would take many thousands of years.

Alan Watt, Climate Denialist Level 7
July 20, 2017 9:30 am

Each lawsuit spends another 30 pages asserting that the defendants, particularly ExxonMobil, knew fossil fuels were warming the globe and raising the sea level as early as the 1960s, but tried to obscure the information to profit from it.

If so, they were spectacularly inept at doing so wouldn’t you say?

James at 48
July 20, 2017 5:02 pm

Little known fact … there is oil in San Mateo County. I say … DRILL BABY DRILL!!! Just a few miles from the Green Billionaires of Woodside, Portola Valley and Hillsborough!
Mwaaaahaaahaaaaahaaaa! :EVIL

July 22, 2017 2:56 pm

These lawsuits should be welcomed by all climate change skeptics. These cities can’t just walk into court and make these claims. They will have to offer up credible evidence. Pretrial discovery will be conducted, they will have to offer up witnesses who will be deposed and cross-examined, under oath. There will be document production where the plaintiffs will have to reveal conversations and communications that support or challenge their claims. Where are they going to find witnesses who will be willing to have their research disclosed, scrutinized and challenged in a public forum? Bring it on, this may be the only opportunity for a real debate, with real data and real evidence.

July 23, 2017 3:54 pm

Hey oil companies…. quit selling fuel in those counties that are suing.

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