Is California hoisting itself with its own petard by filing climate change lawsuits against Big Oil?

Guest petard hoisting by David Middleton

Petard

Hamlet:
There’s letters seal’d, and my two schoolfellows,
Whom I will trust as I will adders fang’d—
They bear the mandate, they must sweep my way
And marshal me to knavery. Let it work;
For ’tis the sport to have the enginer
Hoist with his own petard, an’t shall go hard
But I will delve one yard below their mines
And blow them at the moon.

Hamlet Act 3, scene 4, 202–209

OK… New York, California, Massachusetts, Vermont and other Peoples Republic entities have filed nuisance lawsuits and waged other forms of lawfare against ExxonMobil and other “Big Oil” companies.  The general complaint is that “Big Oil” has caused climate change and all of the bad things that models predict will be caused by climate change.

They have also accused “Big Oil” of failing to disclose the risks that climate change and the regulation thereof may pose to their investors (i.e. mythical stranded assets).  Well, I just read a very interesting article on Seeking Alpha which suggests that California may just be hoisting itself with their own petard… (blowing themselves up with their own mine).

Have California Munis Misled Investors And Bond Insurers About Climate Risk?

Jan. 9, 2018

Josh Rosner
Special situations, research analyst, banks, event-driven

[…]

Last summer, seven California cities and counties sued 17 oil and gas energy producers claiming that they have created a public nuisance and have caused climate change related damage that has increased sea levels in California and exposed the plaintiff governments to massive damages from natural disasters. Exxon Mobil (XOM) has now filed a petition, in District Court, to depose a number of people in the matter.

This is the latest in a series of lawsuits brought by California, Massachusetts, Vermont, and New York and a small number of other cooperating state and local governments against auto, utility, and energy-producing businesses.

Given the severity and specificity of the claimed harm and damages sought, it is peculiar that the disclosures in the plaintiff’s municipal and city bond issuance documents make very limited disclosures of any climate change risks. As a result, it appears these suits will either (A) create new economic risks and hazards for bond investors and, in the case of ‘wrapped’ deals, the bond insurers that wrap those California municipal debts or (B) provide the investors and bond insurers with the information with which to claim they have been defrauded by those municipalities.

Ironically, as a result of the subprime mortgage crisis, many of the same California counties that brought these latest environmental lawsuits filed suits against the five largest municipal bond insurers for “forcing” local governments to needlessly buy bond insurance in order to get higher credit ratings and issue debt with lower interest rates.

[…]

Have the tables turned?

The lawsuits against Chevron (CVX), Exxon Mobil, BP (BP), Shell Oil (RDS.A) (RDS.B) and over a dozen other firms now may provide the bond insurers and investors with a cause of action against the California plaintiffs in this case for failure to disclose, in bond deals, what it claims are massive environmental risks and damages to those counties and cities.

While the lawsuits claim significant harms to those cities and counties, those harms were not disclosed in the hundreds of bond issuances by those governments. In fact, while the plaintiffs in the suits claim grave and specific harms, their bond filings were largely silent on those risks and harms. As The Wall Street Journal highlighted in a headline today: “California Municipalities’ Debt Disclosures Contrast With Climate Warnings.” As a result, the issuers were almost certainly able to benefit from lower issuance costs that they would have been had they disclosed the risk to investors and, in the case of bonds that were wrapped by bond insurers, they likely paid lower insurance premiums than they would have had they fully disclosed the risks to the insurers.

As example, the City of Oakland claimed, in the lawsuits massive fossil-fuel production causes a gravely dangerous rate of global warming and ongoing and increasingly severe sea level rise harms to Oakland and that by 2050, a hundred year flood will occur every 2.3 years. These claims are in stark contrast to Oakland’s disclosures in its bond disclosures in this they state:

“The City is unable to predict when seismic events, fires or other natural events, such as sea rise or other impacts of climate change or flooding from a major storm, could occur, when they may occur, and, if any such events occur, whether they will have a material adverse effect on the business operations or financial condition of the City or the local economy.”

Similarly, San Francisco, another plaintiff, claims it is planning to fortify its Seawall in an effort to protect itself from rising sea levels and that the short-term costs of doing so will be more than $500 million with long-term upgrade costs of $5 billion. In San Francisco’s bond disclosures, it has stated:

“The City is unable to predict whether sea-level rise or other impacts of climate change or flooding from a major storm will occur, when they may occur, and if any such events occur, whether they will have a material adverse effect on the business operations or financial condition of the City and the local economy.”

Similar inconsistencies exist between the claimed harms and bond disclosures of Marin County, San Mateo County, the City of Imperial Beach, the County and City of Santa Cruz (the other plaintiffs in the lawsuits).

[…]

Seeking Alpha

Basically… “Seven California cities and counties sued 17 oil and gas energy producers claiming that they have created a public nuisance and have caused climate change related damage that has increased sea levels in California and exposed the plaintiff governments to massive damages from natural disasters.”  

The municipalities are certain enough that they have or imminently will suffer damages from anthropogenic climate change caused by Big Oil, that they have filed these massive nuisance lawsuits… But they were so uncertain about the risks from anthropogenic climate change, that they failed to disclose such risks in municipal bond offerings.

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126 thoughts on “Is California hoisting itself with its own petard by filing climate change lawsuits against Big Oil?

  1. In case you were wondering – yeah, not even the loudest screaming voices take global warming seriously.

    Good gravy – if they have to start costing global warming risk into their bonds….that is going to be some real money. Also, I Exxon was smart, they’d buy some of these bonds and immediately sue for misrepresentation. Either way, they would win.

  2. Captain of our fairy band,
    Helena is here at hand;
    And the youth, mistook by me,
    Pleading for a lover’s fee.
    Shall we their fond pageant see?
    Lord, what fools these mortals be! (3.2.110-115)

    – Puck (a.k.a. Robin Goodfellow) in Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream

  3. Speaking of Shakespeare, coincidentally he was born at the very start of most probably the severest extended down turn in temperature in the UK’s holocene history, following a period around as warm as today, think bruegel and his paintings of ice bound european towns.

    Coincidentally, Charles dickens was also born at the start of another severe downturn in temperature following a mild few decades. Think ‘A Christmas carol’ and scrooge and napoleons retreat from Moscow.

    Nothing to do with the article by David, but just thought I would keep up the classy literary references. 😊

    Tonyb

    • Not to mention all those Christmas carols where the snow is “deep and crisp and even”, etc….

    • Napolean’s retreat from Moscow may have been in a very cold winter but according to “Red Fortress” by Catherine Merridale, “The harvest season (in Russia) of 1812 was glorious; the fruit – apples and plums – conspicuously good”. Why did he wait till winter to retreat?

      • He took Moscow mid September, and decided to retreat mid October. Retreating, when you just succeeded in taking the major city of your opponent, after a solid streak of victories ? A month to decide that, seems pretty quick to me.

      • Napoleons army used a forage model for supply rather than a logistics model. It is one reason the Spanish were so helpful to the British in fighting the French in Spain.
        His check list
        Step one take St. Petersburg. Done.
        Step two fortify St. Petersburg in expectation of the czar attacking. Done. Czar doesn’t attack.
        Step three, go take Moscow so you can win war.
        Step four Moscow taken in September. Hey it is in October and a bit early for snow, even in Moscow. No czar army. No food stocks. To to return to St. Petersburg by different fought
        Plan meets enemy…… and does to heck.
        Proposed path back to St. Petersburg is blocked by the czars army. The French are unable to force pass, and must no retreat down the same path that they advanced to Moscow on, only they have already stripped it of all the food on the way in.

        To to answer why he was there for so short a time? First he left late, expecting to have to fight at St. Petersburg. Second absent the needed supplies for surviving winter, he couldn’t stay in Moscow, and when snow started to fall early in mid October, he decided to leave. It was I think Krakatoa’s early eruption that year that changed the weather. If one another volcano from that area.

        Interesting foot note. The entrenchment dug by the French at St. Petersburg were used as graves for those French soldiers who died near St. Petersburg. They had literally dug their own graves months before

  4. Oh what a tangled web we weave / When first we practice to deceive.”

    While this line is often attributed to Shakespeare, it is actually from the poem ‘Marmion’, written by Sir Walter Scot in 1808. Still, it is extraordinary appropriate in this instance.

    • +1M California ….. actually Governor Brown …. is so intent on saving the world that it is taxing and regulating industry out of the state except for the love affair with Tesla. He actually believes he’s the Climate Messiah and is wasting tax revenue to prove the state’s virtue. Meanwhile the education and retirement systems are on the verge of collapse.

  5. Thanks for this simply delicious irony, David, and indeed Josh.
    Just another ramification of the insane AGW alternative universe and its sponsors.

    • it’s not irony, it’s hypocrisy.

      when you start out on a lie it will come back a bite you at some stage. What the watermelons really want is to combat capitalism and they foolishly think they can derail it by make an dishonest scare story out of CO2.

      What they fail to realise is that they are just making more opportunities for capitalists and destroying the source of the revenue that has made their lives easy and comfortable enough to spend all day lying and misleading folks about AGW.

      The real result is to force jobs and business out of USA and EU and into far more profitable capitalist dictatorship and slavery of the PRC.

      The only way back now is to try to undercut the Chinese work and pay conditions. And that ain’t pretty.

      • “The only way back now is to try to undercut the Chinese work and pay conditions. And that ain’t pretty”.
        That usually means tariffs. Then it gets really ugly.

      • Pay is not the begin and end all that many make it out to be.
        Far more massive are regulations and tax environments.
        Next up is the reliability of utilities and transportation network. It doesn’t matter how little you pay the workers if the factory is closed because the electricity is out or because you can’t get raw materials in or finished product out.

  6. Congress will have to rein in the Liberal “Lawfare” on the fossil fuel industry just as they had to do with firearms manufacturers in 2005. Progs hate that legal shield. Crooked Hillary promised that if she became President she would work to repeal it. The tort bar lawyers are looking for a big pay-outs as they saw in tobacco settlements, asbestos settlements, ADA access suits against businesses. All those big paydays are running dry and the tort bar is looking for new scams. Guns makers are now out for them to sue.

    The Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act (PLCAA, P.L. 109-92) was passed in 2005. The PLCAA generally shields licensed manufacturers, dealers, and sellers of firearms or ammunition,
    as well as trade associations, from any civil action “resulting from the criminal or unlawful misuse” of a firearm or ammunition, but lists six exceptions where civil suits may be maintained.

    This act was introduced in response to litigation brought by municipalities and victims of shooting incidents against federally licensed firearms manufacturers and dealers, some of whom were located outside the state where the injuries occurred. Consequently, most lawsuits brought after the enactment of this law have been dismissed notwithstanding the exceptions that would permit a civil suit to proceed against a federal firearms licensee. This report provides an overview
    of the PLCAA and its exceptions, and discusses recent judicial developments.

    Is it any wonder the tort bar, and lawyers in general, are big campaign donors to Liberals. Big Oil and the Red States better get Congress to pass a similar shield and send to Trump for signature to stop this Progressive pay-off to the tort bar.

    • What they were trying to do is blame the manufacturers for misuse of a product by the buyer (or thief) which is one of those idiot complaints that go nowhere. That is like trying to blame auto manufacturers for accidents caused by bad drivers. The manufacturer cannot control what the purchaser of a product does after it’s bought (or stolen).

      It’s not like those airbags in Toyotas that explode prematurely and spray shrapnel when they do. That’s a manufacturing defect.

      • Sara,

        You have far, far too high an opinion of the judges and juries from Liberal jurisdictions. Your confidence that, “[this] is one of those idiot complaints that go nowhere” is misplaced when you consider places like San Francisco and the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals.

    • I think it is more reasonable to sue municipalities and states whichde facto prohibit firearms ownership* for depriving people of the right recognized in the Constitution to keep and bear arms, and thus depriving them of the means of self-defense.

      * Washington DC doesn’t prohibit gun ownership, but its laws are so draconian that law-abiding citizens don’t even try – whereas those who do not abide by laws – any laws – have no problem obtaining and using firearms freely.

  7. Link to California Coastal Commission Sea Level Rise Adopted Policy Guidance:
    https://www.coastal.ca.gov/climate/SLRguidance.html
    The link connects to PDF downloads.
    With guidance like this, there is nowhere to hide re reporting to bond purchasers that the dog(fish) ate your sea level rise homework.

    Previous June 2001 sea level guidance can be downloaded as PDF:
    http://www.coastal.ca.gov/climate/SeaLevelRise2001.pdf
    Predictions are based on “State-of-the-art climate models”. Note on PDF Page 8/58 and Appendix A that the ~18-year Metonic cycle is illustrated, but not noted by name.

    And according to American Society of Civil Engineers Smartbrief, the petard got more interesting:
    http://abc7.com/travel/cost-climbs-by-$28-billion-for-california-bullet-train/2955165/
    Tuesday, January 16, 2018 07:32PM
    LOS ANGELES —
    The estimated cost for the first phase of California’s bullet train climbed by 35 percent on Tuesday to $10.6 billion, the latest increase for the ambitious project to run a high-speed rail line from San Francisco to Los Angeles.
    The $2.8 billion price hike for a 119-mile (191-kilometer) segment in the Central Valley puts the entire cost of the project at roughly $67 billion, although officials said they hope to recover the newly announced costs later. It was projected to cost $40 billion in 2008 when voters approved bond financing.

  8. If a state government wanted to sue me or my company, I would stop supplying them. In the case of big oil the screams of outrage from consumers that they could not fill up their cars would cause state government to collapse. Utterly pointless suing companies for a product that is absolutely essential to modern life.

    • dullbutbright this is the route the companies should take.it would end the virtue signalling overnight.

    • Emotionally that would be satisfying, but realistically the cost of doing business in Cali has just gotten more expensive. California and it’s residents should be the ones bearing the costs, not the citizens of other states; I think an extra $0.75 a gallon might cover the additional legal expenses to start.

  9. Nice post, David. Truly a bond gotcha. The other problem these idiots have is proving any actual harm in order to get monetary damages. There isnt any. And prospective injunctive relief would require the oil comanies to stop selling oil. That would bring the world to a specular crashing halt in a hurry. No gas, no diesel. No cars or trucks in or out of San Fran, Oakland, NYC. Food would run out in a couple of days. That would bring citizens to their senses in a hurry.

    • The oil, gas, and coal industries need a shield law from Congress just like the The Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act (PLCAA, P.L. 109-92) passed in 2005 protects the firearms makers and dealers.

      • Greg,
        The fact that they can file these lawsuits will likely advance to subpoena and disclosure is proof on its face that you are wrong.

    • The revenue loses are substantial as well. California consumes ~15 billions gallons of fuel annually and they collect about $0.75 per gallon in road and carbon taxes. The loss of a billion dollars a month of revenue will get officials attention. But just like tobacco, this is really a play for revenue. They don’t want people to stop consuming fossil fuels, they just want a bigger cut of the revenue from its sale.

  10. Oh what a tangled web we weave
    When first we practice to deceive. – Sir Walter Scott
    Not Shakespeare, but methinks the shoe doth fit.

  11. I think the oil and gas companies should stop offering their products in said cities and then counter-sue because the cities never requested carbon free fossil fuels! Or, better yet, raise the price of the product offerings only in the cities which are suing to offset the cost of the lawsuit. This way, only the affected citizens will pay for the lawsuit. After all, the funds to pay the lawyers in the end come from the tax payers.

    That said, I think the truth is, the cities see the companies as big cash cows overflowing with much needed funds. And the best way to get said funds is a lawsuit.

  12. But wait, that’s not all….NYC under Mayor De Blasio recently petitioned FEMA over its latest flood maps for downtown NY and Brooklyn. As the NYT put it “The city, in an unusual move, successfully challenged the scientific assumptions underlying the new maps” to reduce the flood zone. It turns out NYC prefers flood zone maps that underestimate the risk of flooding because more property buyers will not be required to buy flood insurance and thereby inflating property values and associated property tax revenues. If I was an Exxon lawyer I might also want to be asking De Blasio why he is suing oil companies for climate change damages at the same time he interfering with flood control maps.

    Read about it here:

  13. It’s time for oil companies to start charging the rest of the world for the CO2 they put in the atmosphere, which collectively benefits to the tune of $200 per man, woman and child.

    All oil companies need to do is figure out what percentage of the additional CO2 they’re responsible for contributing.

  14. Great! Exxon Mobil, etc., have the same information available to them as all the readers of WUWT. Since even a moron could see that the greenie climate cassandras weren’t going to go away quietly into the night, they should, as a prudent business practice, have used their formidable financial resources to EDUCATE the public regarding climate science, which would have made the sort of legal actions as discussed in this article more difficult.
    They did not.
    I will shed no tears for them.
    Perhaps NOW they will share with the public what they really know about climate change, and undertake the education efforts that they so EASILY could have done, previously.

    • “ExxonMobil etc.” aren’t in the education business. The “oil industry” is composed of corporations engaged in the various aspects of oil & gas exploration, drilling and production. These corporations are owned by people, usually shareholders, who invested their own money for the purpose of making a profit on the exploration, drilling and production for and of oil and natural gas. They didn’t invest their money in educating the public.

      Furthermore, when companies like ExxonMobil funded groups like the Competitive Enterprise Institute, the US government threatened them with the “tobacco treatment”. This letter was sent from Senators Jay Rockefeller (D-WV) and Olympia Snowe (R-ME).

      WASHINGTON, DC 20510

      October 27, 2006

      Mr. Rex W. Tillerson

      Chairman and Chief Executive Officer
      ExxonMobil Corporation
      5959 Las Colinas Boulevard
      Irving, TX 75039

      Dear Mr. Tillerson:

      […]

      We are writing to appeal to your sense of stewardship of that corporate citizenship as US. Senators concerned about the credibility of the United States in the international community, and as Americans concerned that one of our most prestigious corporations has done much in the past to adversely affect that credibility. We are convinced that ExxonMobil’s longstanding support of a small cadre of global climate change skeptics, and those skeptics’ access to and influence on government policymakers, have made it increasingly diffcult for the United States to demonstrate the moral clarity it needs across all facets of its diplomacy.

      […]

      Rather than investing in the development of technologies that might see us through this crisis and which may rival the computer as a weIIspring of near-term economic growth around the world – ExxonMobil and its partners in denial have manufactured controversy, sown doubt, and impeded progress with strategies all-too reminiscent of those used by the tobacco industry for so many years. The net result of this unfortunate campaign has been a diminution of this nation’s ability to act internationally, and not only in environmental matters.

      In light of the adverse impacts still resulting from your corporation’s activities, we must request that ExxonMobil end any further financial assistance or other support to groups or individuals whose public advocacy has contributed to the small, but unfortunately effective, climate change denial myth. Further, we believe ExxonMobil should take additional steps to improve the public debate, and consequently the reputation of the United States. We would recommend that ExxonMobil publicly acknowledge both the reality of climate change and the role of humans in causing or exacerbating it. Second, ExxonMobil should repudiate its climate change denial campaign and make public its funding history.

      […]

      https://www.documentcloud.org/documents/3037155-2006-Senate-Letter-to-ExxonMobil-CEO-Rex-Tillerson.html

      Publicly traded corporations have to tread lightly in areas like these because their primary responsibility is their fiduciary duty to their shareholders.

      When the Federal government is threatening you with a tobacco-style inquisition and Wall Street & the SEC expect you to be their idea of a good “corporate citizen,” corporations have to take such threats and expectations seriously… Because the purpose of the business is to make money for the shareholders. The current spate of nuisance lawsuits are insignificant to the financial damages that a full-blown congressional tobacco-style inquisition would have caused.

      Even though there is no analogy between tobacco and fossil fuels, such a battle would have been far more detrimental to the business than paying lip service to climate change, sustainability and all of the other buzzwords in fashion on Wall Street and government.

      • Don’t the advertise their products, at times educating them about some wondrous additives? Don’t they lobby Congress? Both of those activities ultimately affect their bottom line. So, they’re not one-dimensional purveyors of refined crude oil.
        Furthermore, they sell all over the world. Have they educated foreign publics, ultimately to the benefit of their shareholders? (Such education would rightly be viewed as a sort of insurance against draconian and misguided regulations.) Apparently not, which makes your argument that much weaker.
        Even in the US, I can’t respect their climate cowardice on any level. Meaning, even if they were subject to “tobacco-style inquisitions”, it’s their inquisitors who would be made to look as fools, not them as duplicitous. (Unless they know something that I don’t.)

      • They advertise their products… Because that’s part of their business.

        They lobby Congress on behalf of their business.

        They engage in philanthropic activities that make them look good in the eyes of Wall Street.

        They don’t educate the public about climate change, because it’s not part of their business… And doing so, would be detrimental to their business. If the political winds change, it might be good for their business to start supporting groups like the CEI again. But, ultimately, ExxonMobil acts in the best interests of their shareholders… Because that is what they are lawfully required to do.

      • Will they congratulate themselves for eschewing education of the public if and when they get green carbon taxes or fines levied on them, or they’re sued by governments for damages due to “climate change”, or they’re simply forced to “keep the grease in the ground”, with no compensation from countries that force this upon them? Your tacit assumption is that their downside for going along with the climate scam is negligible. I reject that assumption. Consider Obama’s attempt to legislate coal plants out of business. Oh, and let’s keep an eye on California…

      • My tacit assumption is that I know what I’m talking about. ExxonMobil supports a carbon tax because it is the least damaging form of carbon regulation. Trump is a great reprieve; but government will impose carbon regulations. This is just a matter of time. ExxonMobil’s fiduciary duty is to lobby for carbon regulations that are least damaging to shareholder value.

        Businesses, particularly publicly traded companies, have to operate in reality… Not in AGW skeptic fantasy land.

      • This is the reality of business…

        Beyond the rhetoric
        There has been some speculation about what motivated ExxonMobil to ramp up its pro-carbon tax rhetoric. First, with multiple investigations underway by state attorneys general of the company for misleading its shareholders and the general public about climate risks—and amid mounting investor concern about climate change—it likely feels the need to polish its tarnished image. Second, the company knows that last December’s historic U.N. climate meeting in Paris, where 195 countries committed to keep global warming below 2 degrees Celsius, means that it will be harder to maintain the status quo. Third, if and when Congress does seriously consider a carbon tax, ExxonMobil is positioning itself to influence the debate. And finally, ExxonMobil would likely benefit more than its competitors from a carbon tax, because such a tax would favor the cleaner-burning natural gas over coal and ExxonMobil has the largest natural gas reserves of any U.S. company.

        These are all plausible reasons, except for one thing: The evidence suggests that the company is still doing what it can to obstruct policies to combat climate change.

        Last fall, for example, California Rep. Ted Lieu—who has not received any ExxonMobil campaign contributions—met with the company’s lobbyists in what was presumably one of the “countless private briefings” Cohen cited in his December blog. Lieu asked the lobbyists what they would do if he drafted carbon tax legislation. They replied that “they would take a look at it,” Lieu told InsideClimate News. “They didn’t say they wouldn’t support it and they didn’t say they would,” he added. “It’s clear that they are not going around championing their position. If they actually believe this internally, then they ought to do so in a much louder way than just quietly sticking it on a website.”

        Conversely, House Committee on Energy and Commerce Chairman Fred Upton, a climate science denier, explained to Fox News host Steve Doocy in December 2012 that he told ExxonMobil lobbyists a carbon tax was a “bad idea.” “I sat down with the Exxon folks a couple of months ago,” Upton said, “and let it be known that this is not a proposal that … is going to be coming through in the House.” Nevertheless, ExxonMobil donated more to Upton during the current election cycle than it did in either the 2012 or 2014 cycles.

        Besides its political donations and lobbying, the company is still spending millions of dollars a year on think tanks, advocacy groups and trade associations that dispute climate science and disparage climate policies, including a carbon tax. Just last month, ExxonMobil was a lead sponsor of the American Legislative Exchange Council’s annual conference, which featured Oren Cass, a senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute, a self-described free-market think tank ExxonMobil has been funding since 1998. According to one conference participant, Cass “absolutely eviscerated the case for conservatives adopting a carbon tax.” Conference organizers also provided ALEC state legislator members with a sample resolution against the Environmental Protection Agency’s plan to curb power plant carbon emissions.

        https://www.ucsusa.org/publications/got-science/2016/got-science-august-2016#.Wl_v_KinE2w

        The Union of Concerned Fake Scientists isn’t always wrong about everything.

      • “metamars January 17, 2018 at 3:31 pm
        Will they congratulate themselves for eschewing education of the public if and when they get green carbon taxes or fines levied on them, or they’re sued by governments for damages due to “climate change”, or they’re simply forced to “keep the grease in the ground”, with no compensation from countries that force this upon them? Your tacit assumption is that their downside for going along with the climate scam is negligible. I reject that assumption. Consider Obama’s attempt to legislate coal plants out of business. Oh, and let’s keep an eye on California…”

        Meaningless jabber.
        An attempt to cram in multiple falsehood hot topics fails to define a single honest fact. It’s like 350org spouting at their reflections while in the loo.

      • I’ve always found it fascinating how people who have never run a lemonaid stand believe they know how to run a company better than the people who own it.
        The same people are usually eager to use government to force their notions of what should be important onto companies.

    • “metamars January 17, 2018 at 10:35 am

      Perhaps NOW they will share with the public what they really know about climate change, and undertake the education efforts that they so EASILY could have done, previously”

      Everything Exxon learned and knew about CO2 and climate change is available publicly. Has been for decades.

      That is where the bozos found the Exxon information they falsely claim as hidden by Exxon.

      It’s the ignoramuses who fail to look up or read research that then failed to understand; there is nothing in that research confirming CO2 causes warming. There were questions that are still unanswered today.

      If you shed a crocodile tear, local prey should worry.

      • And Exxon knew exactly what we know today… The greenhouse effect is real, CO2 emissions add to it… But it’s impossible to determine how much CO2 emissions add to the natural greenhouse effect and that all of the evidence suggest that it is minimal.

      • I don’t believe you. Nor would I necessarily believe Exxon Mobil, should they actually be making this claim. In my reality, corporations lie – all the time. They lie by omission, and they tell over lies, also. Rather similar to our politicians….
        I have advocated shareholder lawsuits against Exxon Mobil management, principally to ferret out, in a discovery process, what they actually knew. If it turns out that they “knew” that their product was killing planet earth, then their managerial incompetence would take the form of them not managing a smooth transition to a more sustainable energy business. OTOH, if their management “knew” that the AGW was mostly a scam, then their incompetence would have taken the form of not educating the public (thus indirectly creating political power in their favor).
        The worst scenario is that they weren’t paying attention, and thus were even more incompetent. Everybody and their grandmother knows about “global warming”, whether or not they believe it’s a serious threat, or not.
        In this case, their incompetence would be that much worse.
        Such shareholder lawsuits could be embraced by both honest CO2 climate catastrophists, as well as so called “climate change deniers”, such as yours truly.

      • metamars

        “I don’t believe you.”

        I don’t care what you believe. I care what is true. You believe too many fantastical things for me to accept your assessments of something, anything, to do with ‘the climate’. That you want to hold a fishing expedition inside the Exxon Corporation’s file cabinets is an example to me that you do not have anything to go on other than an unrepentant hostility towards the company.

        Everyone has heard of ‘global warming’ but their understanding of it, even at the ‘climatologist’ level is pretty awful. As you are aware, global warming can be anything you want. Something that can be anything is in reality, nothing.

        The experiments, desktop and mental exercises, that underpin the global warming GHG narrative are pathetic from an experimentalists point of view. No principle of climate science can be established by comparing our convivial atmosphere with the naked moon and claiming the difference is “because of GHG’s.” What I see is the clueless wishing to lead the blind. May they keep wishing. May the blind learn enough to know when they are being misled, better yet, gain sight.

        The confabulation of real environmental problems and solutions with AG CO2 emissions is the great tragedy of the modern age. CAGW is a rich mine for arm-chair science enthusiasts to capture the imagination (and money) of their fellows. Those conducting real experiments to collect relevant data include the radiosonde balloon projects and satellites for measuring temperature and CO2+CH4. All actual data shows there is no meaningful impact on the global temperature by CO2 emissions. That said, nothing about real pollution is addressed by pointing out the fundamental flaws in AGW arguments. We still have responsibilities.

        We should, like Exxon – to the regulatory extent required of them – clean up the environment, safeguard it, and learn to re-use, recycle and reduce simply in the name of efficiency and sanity. That which passes for ‘environmentalism’ in California is a shadow of its former, relevant, helpful, self.

      • @ Crispin in Waterloo

        Neither do I care what you believe.

        You seem to have totally missed the point that Exxon Mobil’s (etc.) track record in dealing with a POLITICAL reality, which will inevitably affect their financial viablity, is why I believe they are liable to shareholder lawsuits. Or should be.

        Perhaps if you explained which of the 3 scenarios I laid out should exempt them from legitimate charges of incompetence, I could help you out.

        Just because you have a firm opinion about the science behind the global warming controversy changes the political reality not a whit. The political reality is largely determined by what people BELIEVE. It is, to borrow a phrase from Carl Jung, a “psychological fact”.

      • “metamars January 17, 2018 at 5:02 pm
        I don’t believe you. Nor would I necessarily believe Exxon Mobil, should they actually be making this claim. In my reality”

        Meaning you utterly refuse reality.

        Interesting that you immediately try another fake straw man blaming everything on corporations.
        That everything Exxon knew is already in the public knowledge pool completely removes Exxon from your fantasy.
        Fake straw man, fake argument(s), irrational claims…

        You are stuck in a nightmare dreamland of your own making. Enjoy your nightmare playmates McKibben and Nye.

        Leaving any past, present or future ‘metamars’ comments, without merit.

      • “That everything Exxon knew is already in the public knowledge pool completely removes Exxon from your fantasy.”

        Yes, as been so amply proved in this diary and comments. /s

        “You are stuck in a nightmare dreamland of your own making. Enjoy your nightmare playmates McKibben and Nye.”

        More foaming at the mouth. While I do have some respect for McKibben, because I believe he honestly believes in his schtick, Nye has been exposed on this very blog by Anthony Watts as participating in an Al Gore’an fraud (ref: https://wattsupwiththat.com/climate-fail-files/gore-and-bill-nye-fail-at-doing-a-simple-co2-experiment/ ). And I have blogged about exactly this diary by Anthony.

        Your own fantasist thinking is most unimpressive…..

  15. “Big Oil throws California’s climate change hypocrisy back in its face”, great commentary by Jake Novak, CNBC.com senior columnist at http://cnb.cx/2miGXST

    “That hypocrisy spreads to many other state policies, including road building projects and building codes. The funny thing is you don’t have to look at bond offerings to find blatant cases of state and local governments saying one thing about climate change and doing the opposite when it comes to putting their (capital improvement) money where their mouths are.

    For example, California is still building its roads and freeways to accommodate more vehicles, not less. The funny thing is you don’t have to look at bond offerings to find blatant cases of state and local governments saying one thing about climate change and doing the opposite when it comes to putting their money where their mouths are.

    For example, California is still building its roads and freeways to accommodate more vehicles, not less.”

  16. This paragraph:
    “Ironically, as a result of the subprime mortgage crisis, many of the same California counties that brought these latest environmental lawsuits filed suits against the five largest municipal bond insurers for “forcing” local governments to needlessly buy bond insurance in order to get higher credit ratings and issue debt with lower interest rates.”

    Man, do I smell insurance fraud, or what?!? There is such a thing as discovery in the insurance industry, and it is particularly invaluable in the case of fraud foisted on the insurer.

    Anyone besides me think that those bond ratings will drop like stones, and the insurers may just cancel their coverages, maybe even permanently? This kind of thing follows insureds around, especially in this area, the bond business.

    Ooops!

    • I agree. The Bonds must lose in resale value. However I’m not sure that the Bond Market is as skittish as the Stock exchanges. It seems that one part of the bureaucracy of the State California which is suing does not communicate with the other department which deals with issuing Bonds. Otherwise they don’t read the fine print. Insurers should be showing some interest as they are very keen on people reading the fine print, as anyone claiming after a natural disaster finds out.

  17. Slightly off topic, but it is likely that the real Shakes-Spear (proper spelling) was Edward de Vere, the Earl of Oxford and a favourite of Elizabeth l who was a known playwrite. His life certainly fits the life of Shakes-Spear, more than the Stratford man (who even has the wrong name).

    https://deveresociety.co.uk/public

    R

    • And maybe not.

      And maybe a few other people

      And maybe not

      Bill Bryson “Shakespeare”

      The Shakespeare industry gets a mention in David Kahn “The Codebreakers”

    • This is a silly argument, considering that Will Shakespeare’s father was a glove maker and did quite well marketing his products to the court of Henry VIII and later Elizabeth I, and was part of the rising middle class that made England into the empire that it became. It is also a silly argument, mostly because it’s been disproved repeatedly.
      And it is non sequitur to this article, other than the quote that indicates self-involved conceit and vanity on the part of those city managers/governments, in addition to their carelessness in contradicting themselves. That makes it even MORE silly.
      Will Shakespeare made his living in the beginning writing romantic poetry for the courtiers of Elizabeth’s court. He wrote EVERYTHING in poem form, whether it was the sonnet form or blank verse.
      De Vere was far too busy shmoozing Lizzie to spend time writing that much copy. And the correct spelling is “playwright”, RAFE, NOT PLAYWRITE.

      • It is not that silly.

        The Stratford Shakespeare had the wrong name, could hardly sign his name, did not have the requisite courtly education or contacts, was not aclaimed as an author in his lifetime, said nothing about his plays in his will, left no manuscripts, had no library, left no books – and his monument originally showed a woolsack rather than a pen and paper. And his daughter was illiterate, which is decidedly odd for Englands greatest playwrite.

        (Do remember that all the early folios were authored by Shakes-Spear (ie the Greek Athene), not by Shakespeare.)

        R

  18. I think the other irony is that the catastrophic climate change talking points will get aired in court. Ross McKitrick has already responded to the inaccuracies in the NYC lawsuit. Exxon has very deep pockets and can afford to litigate thoroughly. Narratives developed in echo chambers that fair poorly in open debate will crumble quickly.

  19. While it will take years if not decades for the lawsuit (s)to wind through the tangled bowels of US litigation you can anticipate the cost of new bond issuance will spike immediately. Swift justice.

    • Any evidence presented in a trial can be challenged by the other side. They can use discovery to reveal data and methods for generating the chart. Failure to produce will result in sanctions and the exclusion of the chart from the trial proceedings.

    • “Seems Mikes hockey stick is an important part of the New York case”

      The bogus Hockey Stick charts are the only *evidence” the Alarmists have. If not for that, they would have nothing.

      Exxon should challenge the Hockey Stick dishonesty and show it for what it is: Manipulated data meant to sell CAGW claims. A trick foisted on the public, costing the public TRILLIONS of dollars already, and destined to cost even more if not debunked.

      • TA

        It is interesting that they took such a pre-emptive tack in attacking M&M for their deconstruction of the Hockey Stick in 2003. It is clear they are dependent on it to ‘prove global warming’ is human-caused. The odd bit is the ridiculous untruths they assert to the court. I presume they thought McKitrick would not respond, or wouldn’t find out.

    • Exxon, et al will not be successful using science data as the well had been poisoned and we’re likely to see another trial about evolution and monkeys.. We saw that in the infamous Supreme ruling about CO2 being a poluting gas and allowing EPA to issue a “finding” and procede to enact numerous regs and restrictions and …… Even the infamous liberal Ginsberg expressed concern about ruling upon “science”.

      A more effective action is what is being proposed. Go after fraudulent statements in bond proposals. Let all the folks that stood behind the bonds know what is being asserted in the lawsuits compared to the bond documents.

      Gums…

  20. The Democratic Peoples Republic of California and many of its counties and cities also failed to reveal the potential risks/costs of being run by madman who thinks cow farts are a risk to global climate, but lack of affordable, reliable energy is just a mild speed bump in the progress towards a Nirvana of meat-free, fossil fuel-free, climate change-free, living where everyone owns their own unicorn and a Tesla paid for by poor day laborours.

  21. I’m going to hold my breath until California declares itself a fossil fuel free state…… Humm, maybe not!

  22. the oil companies can start by doubling the fuel prices in California to cover costs of litigation.

  23. Exxon & other oil companies,

    Get together and raise prices enough to cover potential cost of lawsuits in the USA. Characterize the funding as proactive customer share reimbursement, rather than collusion.

    Create a fund … put the money in a fund the will be distributed directly to each USA individual, at 7 year interval payouts as “remediation” share payment. Work with republicans to create a government program that will accept payments that are not accepted by any individuals.

    Let everyone know that every 7 years they will be getting about $400. And that if the if the government gets in the way, the fund will be much less. Lawsuits against the companies will essentially be against the fund and the voluntary payout to public will be reduced by each local nuisance lawsuit.

    What percentage increase in oil (product) costs (in USA) would be necessary create a billion per year fund?

    I recognize that this can’t work in reality, but it would be interesting.

  24. So, when a criminal enterprise is convicted under RICO, the entire membership of the enterprise, and everyone who made money in the illegal scheme, is convicted, and their assets forfeited.

    Tell me again how much tax money governments make off the sale of oil and oil products?

  25. The most interesting part for me is the opportunity for discovery on the data and the internal mechanisms and the merit scores that the modelers will certainly (well ok… \sarc…sarc/ ) have created and rigorously applied over the decades the models have been running in order to be in compliance with scientific and engineering standards as well as the basic grant requirements.

    Just think of the information that will result from these pre-trial discoveries! Think of the ability to review and evaluate for the jury the diligence and effort-intensive valor displayed by the tireless workers that have painstakingly built reliable, traceable and repeatable datasets with transparent and repeatable adjustments to the raw data that have been fed into the physics-based simulation engines.

    Where can I send a dollar to ensure that they continue with their lawsuit? I don’t want the knowledge explosion to end too soon.

  26. Well, now that my soup is simmering away, I have to say that from my view, this is going to be come the biggest gigglesnorrrttt ever, mostly because of the “discovery” process regarding the vast differences between the bond disclosures and the claimed harm.

    If Exxon, et al., do not come out of this way ahead of the game, I will be surprised. It may wind on for years, but in the end, the proof of harm will be on the states in question, not on the oil companies.

  27. Big and Little Oil brought the USA (and the world) low oil prices and low natural gas prices! Their investments in technology (horizontal drilling, fracking, pipelines, process efficiency) have restored low cost reliable fossil fuel energy to the USA. The entire worldreaps the benefits, of both the technology created and the low cost reliable energy that results.

    The current litigation brought by California, Massachusetts, Vermont, and New York not only opens these states to potential ‘failure to disclose’ lawsuits from bond investors but also from real estate investors, corporations, and insurance companies. If their baseless lawsuits should cause price fluctuations in oil and gas energy costs, the rest of the world may have cause to sue these States for real economic harm! My sincere hope is the oil companies can legally give California, Massachusetts, Vermont, and New York ‘the shaft’. Drill them ’till they beg for relief… then frack ’em and cap ’em. It would set a beautiful precedent.

    Here at home, low cost reliable oil and gas combined with a pro-American/pro-business President Trump administration has allowed the USA to shed the 8 year malaise of Obama crony socialism to become a vibrant and growing economy once more. Thank you, Capitalism! Thank you, Technology! Thank you, Big Oil! Thank you, President Trump!

    And now, a bit of levity: Remember Barack Hussein Obama’s now obviously stupid quip “…We can’t just drill our way to lower gas prices.”?

  28. Interesting, Is there a case for those people who suffered in the recent wild fires in California to mount a class action on the basis that the State knew of the risks of climate change but did nothing. No decent fire breaks were built to help mitigate the risk.

  29. If California is now so sure about the damage being wreaked by big oil, why are they allowing any to be sold in the State?

    Surely they should be shutting down all oil refineries, petrol stations, closing all fossil fuel power stations, stopping importing power from out of state unless such power is guaranteed low carbon, banning all petrol cars, gas heating etc etc.

    Not to mention the use of all goods produced with the help of fossil fuels, and the use/sale of all agricultural produce that have not been made with purely non fossil fuel assistance.

    • They should… and they are working towards that.

      They are also sensible enough not to do so at a rate which damages their state.

  30. It’s all about money, which, in the end, is charged to us. But California isn’t bashful about fleecing it’s citizens.

  31. Apology for pedantry but a petard is a small bomb (from French for fart) with a short fuse in a cast iron or clay pot used to blow in a door. A ‘nice’ bit of work prone to ending with the engineer blown up too, hence ‘hoist with his own petard’. Mining and countermining are other parts of the engineer’s work (tunneling under fortifications to collapse them). Vimy Ridge being a famous example.

    http://www.durandgroup.org.uk/Vimy_Ridge.htm

    • Last time I used the quote, I thought petards were the spikes mountain climbers hammer into rock faces… I could have used a little pedantry in advance of that…. ;-)

      • California, New Mexico, Oklahoma and Alaska are all around 500,000 bbl/d. The numbers bounce around. California ranks 3rd if you use annual bbl/d. They rank 6th if you use monthly bbl/d. North Dakota is a distant second place to Texas and the other four are a distant third to sixth place.

  32. I have a question: What is the ultimate source of power that provides electricity to light courtrooms?

    … to power the computers that lawyers use to compose their notes, forms, and communications involved with carrying on lawsuits?

    … to light and run the banks that handle funds to pay the lawyers and, per chance, to pay the winners of lawsuits?

    … to power industries to provide vehicles that use fossil fuels to transport all concerned wherever they need to travel to handle the business of lawsuits?

    The hypocrisy runs so much deeper, when you get right down to the practical details of life in civilization as we know it.

  33. Based on the paleoclimate record and work done with climate models, one can conclude that the current climate change is caused by the sun and the oceans over which mankind has no control, including big oil. There is no real evidence that CO2 has any effect on climate and plenty of scientific rational to support the idea that the climate sensivity of CO2 is really zero. But even if CO2 were responsible for climate change the fossil fuel companies are not the responsible parties here but rather the actual people that make use of goods and or services that make use of fossil fuels. These are the people who are ultimately responsible for adding CO2 to the atmoslhere and it if is their money that keeps the fossil fuel companies in business. By far the source of the largest amount of greenhouse gases being added to the atmosphere are the oceans of the world and no one is taking action to stop that from happening. The real climate change culprit in terms of climate change is Mother Nature and that is who the state of California should be litigating.

  34. I wonder what would happen if the oil companies, in response to these law suits, stopped selling their products in these states???

  35. Have pension funds counted risks of the next glaciation?
    With 11 interglacials over the last 800,000 years, there is a very high likelihood of natural variations causing a descent into the next glaciation – UNLESS we can generate enough global warming to prevent that. Current climate change wisdom expects CO2 warming to prevent that.
    Characterizing Interglacial Periods over the Past 800,000 Years

    The end of an interglacial (glacial inception) is a slower process involving a global sequence of changes. Interglacials have been typically 10–30 ka long. The combination of minimal reduction in northern summer insolation over the next few orbital cycles, owing to low eccentricity, and high atmospheric greenhouse gas concentrations implies that the next glacial inception is many tens of millennia in the future.

    However, current model warming temperature predictions are 260% of actual for the anthropogenic signature tropical tropospheric temperature. See John R. Christy 2016 testimony and John Christy 2017 testimony.

    Los Angeles and San Francisco bays would probably dry up! Catastrophic famines would ensue – far worse than during the Little Ice Age.
    Why have public or private pension funds not addressed these far higher risks of descending into the next glaciation?

    • “The combination of minimal reduction in northern summer insolation over the next few orbital cycles, owing to low eccentricity, and high atmospheric greenhouse gas concentrations implies that the next glacial inception is many tens of millennia in the future.”

      Highly unlikely. It implies that we live in a completely unique interval. The last time such a long, warm interval occurred was in the Middle Pliocene 3.5-4 million years ago when climate and geography was very different (no Panamanian isthmus for one thing):

  36. Tweets going around regarding ocean acidity, like this one:
    “Ocean acidity from climate change has gone from 8.2 to 8.05. That doesn’t sound like much but at 7.8 crustaceans can’t form shells & the food web collapses. When the oceans die, we die. Every city must divest from fossil fuels like NYC just did! ”
    Is this bullshit or what?

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