City and County of Honolulu v. Sunoco LP et al.

From Gelbspan Files

Politicians in Hawaii were threatening to sue Big Energy companies last November for damages from the effects of man-caused global warming. As seen in their press release last week, March 9th, they finally delivered on it. Poor timing for those City/County officials, since the Coronavirus news is overrunning all other news now, but far more important is their poor judgement and lack of due diligence regarding their politically suicidal decision to jump on the bandwagon of the nine other boilerplate global warming lawsuits, which are being handled by the Sher Edling law firm.

As of the publication time of this blog post, Sher Edling is not yet showing this lawsuit as #10 on their pile of boilerplate filings at their Court Documents Complaints links page, for some unknown reason. This latest big news lawsuit doesn’t even appear yet on their press release page, like the prior ones did. They at least indirectly referred to it on March 9 at their Twitter page in three different tweets, where only one of their linked-to pieces offers a passing mention of their name two paragraphs from the end. That’s just one more odd looking problem in this overall situation, you’d think they’d announce this outright in some unmistakable way. But nobody can miss their name right at the top of the actual court filing itself.

Why is this latest effort by Hawaiian officials political suicide? Because ……. Sher Edling. I’ll explain using screencaptures straight out of this latest filing and from my prior dissections of what’s fatally wrong with their cases. Call it a ‘Summary for Policymakers,’ or a summary for the defendant law firms if they choose to drive a stake through the heart of these cases instead of trying to prevail via legal technicalities that only lawyers love.

First, from the San Mateo CA County July 2017 filing to this latest Honolulu one, all of these boilerplate filings claim,

Defendants, major corporate members of the fossil fuel industry, have known for nearly half a century that unrestricted production and use of their fossil fuel products create greenhouse gas pollution that warms the planet and changes our climate … They have nevertheless engaged in a coordinated, multi-front effort to conceal and deny their own knowledge of those threats … and persistently create doubt in the minds of customers, consumers, regulators, the media, journalists, teachers, and the public about the reality and consequences of the impacts of their fossil fuel pollution.

How do you prove that, though?

Identical to all the other Sher Edling lawsuits, such as the State of Rhode Island one, this Honolulu one offers this set of ‘leaked memos evidence,’

In 1991, for example, the Information Council for the Environment (ICE), whose members included affiliates, predecessors and/or subsidiaries of Defendants, launched a national climate change science denial campaign … Included among the campaign strategies was to “reposition global warming as theory (not fact).” Its target audience included older, less-educated males …

The fatal problem is how this set of leaked memos was never part of the ICE PR campaign, the set was an unsolicited, rejected, and never used proposal for campaign names and targeting / strategy suggestions that were — let me emphasize — never used, and never even seen by the main administrator/decision maker for the campaign.

You don’t need a law degree to arrive at this common sense conclusion: If a proposal for any particular action ends up in the trash can where nobody of any consequence sees it, it therefore is not evidence proving it was the guiding force for such efforts, or that such actions exist at all.

Adding to the trouble here just like all the other lawsuits, such as the County of Santa Cruz CA one, the source for the “Reposition global warming” memo set in the Honolulu filing is,

Union of Concerned Scientists, Deception Dossier #5: Coal’s “Information Council on the Environment” Sham (1991) …

The fatal problem with that is how the UCS is not the original source for the memo set, as proven deep within their overall collection of so-called ‘dossiers’ notes, where their disclosure says it sources from Greenpeace archives …. but the fatal problem with that is how Greenpeace isn’t the original source, either. The place where the memo set got its first major continuing media traction was via the old Ozone Action group, headed by John Passacantando and Kert Davies, where they only said they and Ross Gelbspan ‘obtained’ the memo set without saying who they obtained it from. (hold that thought about Kert Davies for a few moments)

Problematic as that situation is, these lawsuits don’t simply offer the worthless “Reposition global warming” memo set to prove sinister fossil fuel industry-led disinformation conspiracy efforts exist. They also offer the American Petroleum Institute (API) “Victory will be achieved …” leaked memos.

Just like all the other lawsuits, such as the Baltimore one, the Honolulu filing says,

In 1998, API, on behalf of its members, developed a Global Climate Science Communications Plan … API proclaimed that “[v]ictory will be achieved when . . . average citizens ‘understand’ (recognize) uncertainties in climate science …

Same fatal problem as the “Reposition global warming” memo set. The API memos were unsolicited and never implemented. Again, worthless as evidence proving sinister fossil fuel industry-led disinformation conspiracy efforts exist.

Piling on now: just like what’s seen in the Baltimore and Pacific Coast Federation of Fishermen’s Associations lawsuit, the source for the API memos in this Honolulu filing is an innocuous-looking website address with the root “documentcloud.” Click on the lawsuits’ version of the link reproduced below, and it takes you to a PDF file devoid of any identifying source. But change the two ends of the url address while leaving its number and name intact …….

……. and you’ll be taken to a regular webpage with a name clearly attached to it. Kert Davies, when he worked at Greenpeace. The same Kert Davies who is the current proprietor of the Climate Investigations Center (CIC), whose Twitter account features the API memo in its header photo. The same Kert Davies who is also the proprietor of the Climate Files website which the Sher Edling law firm cites as a source for one of the newspaper ads that came out of the ICE campaign.

That particular newspaper ad citation is among myriad other credibility problems within these Sher Edling lawsuits, which I’ve covered in my prior dissections of these filings.

Meanwhile, since it was the people who got merged into Greenpeace that were the most prominent holders of the “reposition global warming” memo set, and since Greenpeace said outright that the API memos were leaked to them, then Sher Edling should declare,

Coal and Oil executives ran disinformation campaigns, and all the evidence for that is at Greenpeace!

Or is that something they might want to avoid drawing attention to at all costs?

Larger questions arise these boilerplate lawsuit filings, however. While the Hawaiian officials in this situation may have been dazzled by presentations put on by Sher Edling staff about the ‘evidence’ these lawsuits are built on, who dazzled the Sher Edling people with these otherwise worthless memos? Or was it not necessary to dazzle them at all? Considering the way ……..

…….. and how law firms don’t usually file mega-lawsuits for free purely out of the goodness of their hearts, is it fair to ask if the Kert Davies / Sher Edling connection is an opening into the world of how the overall accusation against skeptic climate scientists operates?

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March 20, 2020 10:29 pm

“Sue Big Energy companies last November for damages from the effects of man-caused global warming”

While they’re at it, they may as well sue the East Pacific Rise mid ocean ridge and all its volcanic activity and all its hydrothermal vents. There’s more carbon from there than what these pesky little oil companies could ever produce.

Sadly the usclivar site has since removed its east pacific rise page but Martin Kuntsman does have a point.

Reply to  chaamjamal
March 21, 2020 12:38 am
Steven Lonien
March 20, 2020 11:08 pm

Mirrors the triple meltdowns path of fallout from that MOX INTENSIFIED nuclear fuel.explosions .leaving aapparenty a path of mutated virus and victims..worldwide. hell of way t boil water .

Bryan A
Reply to  Steven Lonien
March 21, 2020 8:05 am

Mr Bot…
You need a better translate program, your posts are somewhat incoherent

Steven Lonien
March 20, 2020 11:35 pm

Betz limits phyics law requires gaps my automatic feathering flatblade radial windmills dont have this oill era phyics law is baseless imposed 47% loss on all windmills regardless of fact of Einestines 1905 therory of relativity. And prediction of frictkionless bearings NASA developed for my design .that claims infinite values my design only is capable of..

Flavio Capelli
Reply to  Steven Lonien
March 21, 2020 1:02 am

Is too much to ask for a coherent sentence?

Pillage Idiot
Reply to  Flavio Capelli
March 21, 2020 7:30 am

I make $4,000 per week from my home writing word salad on the internet. (I used to make only $3,000 per week until I started adding sciencey words!)

You too can make big bucks, just click on our link …

Jeff Alberts
Reply to  Pillage Idiot
March 21, 2020 9:36 am

Normally I’d agree with you, but there’s no link, not even on his name. I don’t know what the purpose of his/her/its posts are.

John Diller
Reply to  Steven Lonien
March 21, 2020 7:38 am


You made me think I was having a stroke.

Jeff Alberts
Reply to  John Diller
March 21, 2020 9:52 am

Maybe the Griff bot broke its programming, and is now attempting to drive people insane with incoherent ramblings.

Oh, that’s what it always did.

Never mind.

Reply to  Steven Lonien
March 21, 2020 1:39 pm

Who’s this person Einestines of whom you speak?
The theory of relativity predicts friction-less bearings?

Coeur de Lion
March 21, 2020 12:41 am

What damages?

Carl Friis-Hansen
March 21, 2020 12:46 am

Hawaii intent to be fossil fuel free by 2045 or at lest 100% “renewable”, whatever that entails.
Currently the use fossil fuel – load of it.
Enjoy the charts on:
and notice all the coal, motor gasoline, distillate fuel oil, jet fuel, HGL, residual fuel, other petroleum and finally some fossil fuel manufactured renewable (to be renewed or upgraded every 15 year on average with the help of fossil fuel).
The Hawaiians really need to cut down on flying hours, car driving, Internet use, air condition, refrigeration, etc. They need to go back a few centuries. They can still mill and pump water with wooden windmills, and use semaphore for communication.
Sher Edling can probably find work in other states.

Was this sarcastic? Not sure!

Jeff Alberts
Reply to  Carl Friis-Hansen
March 21, 2020 9:37 am

They want to go back to the way they were before Europeans arrived.

John the Econ
March 21, 2020 2:14 am

What this really ultimately is is the imposition of a consumption tax on consumers by politicians who don’t have the balls to do it directly. The question is will the voters fall for it?

Michael 2
Reply to  John the Econ
March 21, 2020 9:42 am

Yeah, they will fall for it because they don’t have much choice. The typical Hawaiian (even the real ones) have never had much influence on politics.

Ron Long
March 21, 2020 3:50 am

Is each state helpless, legally, to allow targeted corporate entities to file counter law suits against this harassment via false suits from Sher Edling? Sher Edling, unless it is one of those George Soros associates, Shirley has a profit motive in their activity?

Ed Zuiderwijk
March 21, 2020 4:23 am

Simples. Sunoco LP stops trading as off today. Complaints to be sent to Sher Edling.

March 21, 2020 5:24 am

How about suing Hawaii for not building nuclear power plants, which would stop the importation of oil and coal as fuels? Hawaii imports virtually all of their fuels for power plants, resulting in high prices (cost of oil) for their electricity – is the highest of the 50 states – roughly 38 cents per kWhr. In a nuclear power plant, the cost of the uranium fuel is less than one ccent per kWhr. And we now know from a recent Harvard study that windmills actually result in a warmer environment. Hawaii has LOTS of wind but now we know that this will not help.

Bryan A
Reply to  ColMosby
March 21, 2020 8:03 am

The only saving grace the islands have is that they sit atop an active Volcanic region providing mass quantities of available inexpensive Geothermal sourced energy
At least the Big Island does though it’s gradually sliding off the hot spot.

oeman 50
Reply to  Bryan A
March 21, 2020 1:27 pm

The volcanos have this distressing tendency to erupt on the only geothermal power station, Puna. The lower Puna eruption took it off line.

Reply to  Bryan A
March 21, 2020 1:41 pm

I believe that only the big island has active volcanoes.

Reply to  ColMosby
March 21, 2020 12:24 pm

I lived in HI back in the late 60’s. A US provider of nuclear power plants was trying to sell HI on placing a NPP on Oahu near Kaneohe Bay. They had an analysis showing how the water in the bay would be as clear as the water in any of the other bays by pumping water from about a mile out in the ocean, using it to coll the equipment and then discharging the water to the bay. By getting water that far out in the ocean, it would be cool enough to be very close to the bay temperature when discharged. As is obvious, they did not want Nuclear power.

Reply to  Uzurbrain
March 21, 2020 9:24 pm

In the early 80s, I think it was, I knew a girl who went on a five-day Christmas-New Year holiday to Honolulu. She said that the day after she arrived a tropical storm blacked out Honolulu and they hooked the town up to a nuclear sub to provide power for essential services.
I have done a quick search of the web but can’t find confirmation for any of this, but I do remember that the photos of her holiday showed happy eyes on the first day, not too happy eyes on the second day and red devil-eyes on the last few days. She was on the 11th floor (iirc) of a hotel and had to walk up and down each time she went out somewhere.

March 21, 2020 8:48 am

How many more failed attempts to extort money out of oil companies for their nefarious deeds to kill our environment will it take before the ecoloons get the message and give up? When plaintiff attorneys start taking these cases on a percentage basis?

Jeff Alberts
March 21, 2020 9:33 am

“Included among the campaign strategies was to “reposition global warming as theory (not fact).””

Yeah, bad move. It should have been portrayed as hypotheses.

Gary from Chicagoland
March 21, 2020 11:51 am

Hawaiian average temps have not gone up For the last 20 years or so, but it’s population has increased dramatically. Most likely urban heat island has caused a significant amount of their 2 F increase since 1800. In addition the Pacific Decade Oscillation cycle of sea surface temps is also a major factor in State temps: when the PDO is warm so is Hawaii.

March 21, 2020 2:34 pm

Dear Mr Rotter

Where these law suits are concerned, a proper cost/benefit analysis should be done.

If the benefits outweigh the costs, the plaintiffs should pay the entire community the value of their claim.

Further, the oil companies are not the ‘culprits’ in their suit, it is the oil companies’ customers who purchase their products and burn them, directly in their cars, furnaces and ovens, or indirectly via their electricity suppliers, therefore their suit ought to be against the several millions of fossil fuel energy consumers, not their supplier, who is only doing what is demanded of them via the free market economy.

Further, the plaintiffs cannot sue unless they have themselves forsaken all fossil fuel energy consumption, whether direct or indirect, and live in a cave without any mod cons, hunt, gather and grow their own food, make their own garments out of whatever animal skins or plant fibres they can, use only wood or coal they have dug themselves for fuel.

Further, they and their families live without any modern medical treatments, education or technology. They should carve their own iPhones out of wood.


March 22, 2020 6:38 am

“…older, uneducated males… ”

Are they referring to almost the geologists?

You know… all those guys who received research grants from NSA, Exxon, shell, etc while they investigated paleoclimate trying to show the connection between sea level, higher temperatures and carbon dioxide?

Those older uneducated males?

Reply to  wally
March 22, 2020 9:37 am

@wally: While you may be (I assume) facetious in asking your question, it is actually a good one. The enviro-activist mob who’ve long believed that the “reposition global warming” memos are evidence of corporate disinformation campaigns hold this position because of the alleged ‘sinister’ targeting goal of supposedly seeking to con dumb old guys / poor young women into holding a skeptic position. The elemental problem for the enviro-activist mob is that neither the “repositioning” strategy nor the narrow audience targeting ideas were ever used; those ideas were a rejected suggestions proposal out of the Edison Electric Institute (‘targeting’ page seen here ). The ICE campaign president simply wanted to tell everyone the side of the issue Al Gore was excluding. The basically unanswered question in this torrid affair is why EEI would propose such a boneheaded targeting audience in the first place. In my opinion, the whole thrust of the rejected memo proposal is out-of-character for people who genuinely want to inform the public about details in an issue that biased policymakers and biased advocates deliberately leave out. It looks more like the kind of con using misinformation tactics that the enviro-activists would want to try on gullible members of the public.

Bill Rocks
March 22, 2020 9:43 am

How do you spell racketeering?

Reply to  Bill Rocks
March 22, 2020 11:54 pm

Or as the blogger Shub Niggurath put it in late 2015 in telling the tale of Naomi Oreskes’ initial effort to get this sort of lawsuit rolling, “RICO-teering”:

No matter the label, the little enviro-activist clique I speak of are bent on nailing ‘Big Energy’ to the wall for corruption, but they’ve never had viable evidence to do so.

old construction worker
March 24, 2020 1:44 am

If I were Sunoco LP I would stop selling LP in Hawaii.

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