Oil giants “knowingly and recklessly created an ongoing public nuisance that is causing harm now and in the future risks catastrophic harm to human life and property”

(Reuters) – California cities San Francisco and Oakland filed separate lawsuits against five oil companies on Wednesday seeking billions of dollars to protect against rising sea levels they blamed on climate change, according to public documents.

The lawsuits, filed in state courts in San Francisco and Alameda Counties, alleged Chevron Corp, ConocoPhillips, Exxon Mobil Corp, BP Plc, and Royal Dutch Shell Plc, created a public nuisance and asked for funds to finance infrastructure to deal with rising sea levels.

According to a news release from San Francisco city officials, the lawsuits mirror 1980s-era lawsuits against tobacco companies. They allege the oil giants “knowingly and recklessly created an ongoing public nuisance that is causing harm now and in the future risks catastrophic harm to human life and property.”

“Congress and the Trump administration are AWOL on climate change,” said Ken Kimmell, president of the Union of Concerned Scientists, saying the courts were the appropriate venue to address rising sea levels and other climate impacts.

The lawsuits are the latest in a growing body of legal action against oil companies over climate change. Prosecutors for New York and Massachusetts are investigating Exxon, for example, over the possibility it misled investors in public statements on the risks of climate change.



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