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Judge tosses San Francisco-Oakland climate change lawsuit against big oil companies

Judge tosses San Francisco-Oakland climate change lawsuit against big oil companies

– Associated Press – Monday, June 25, 2018

SAN FRANCISCO — A U.S. judge who held a hearing about climate change that received widespread attention ruled Monday that Congress and the president were best suited to address the contribution of fossil fuels to global warming, throwing out lawsuits that sought to hold big oil companies liable for the Earth’s changing environment.

Noting that the world has also benefited significantly from oil and other fossil fuel, Judge William Alsup said questions about how to balance the “worldwide positives of the energy” against its role in global warming “demand the expertise of our environmental agencies, our diplomats, our Executive, and at least the Senate.”

“The problem deserves a solution on a more vast scale than can be supplied by a district judge or jury in a public nuisance case,” he said.

Alsup’s ruling came in lawsuits brought by San Francisco and neighboring Oakland that accused Chevron, Exxon Mobil, ConocoPhillips, BP and Royal Dutch Shell of long knowing that fossil fuels posed serious risks to the environment, but still promoting them as environmentally responsible.

The lawsuits said the companies created a public nuisance and should pay for sea walls and other infrastructure to protect against the effects of climate change – construction that could cost billions of dollars.

The Oakland and San Francisco city attorneys’ offices did not immediately have comment.

New York City, several California counties and at least one other California city filed similar suits.

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