Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Trump Administration Joins Fossil Fuel Companies in Climate Fight Against Cities

Arguing against cities that want Big Oil to compensate for climate damages, federal lawyers say such an outcome would curb fossil fuel production, a Trump priority.

San Francisco and Oakland have sued five major oil and gas companies in an attempt to hold fossil fuel producers accountable for the effects of climate change. Lawyers for the Trump administration have now filed a brief in support of the companies' efforts to have these cases dismissed. (Credit: Mandel Ngan/AFP/Getty Image) Click to Enlarge.
Just before a critical hearing to determine the fate of a pair of climate lawsuits in California, the United States government has weighed in as a heavyweight ally on the side of the fossil fuel companies.

Lawyers from the Justice Department's Environment and Natural Resources Division filed a friend of the court brief last week in support of five of the world's largest oil and gas companies, which are seeking to have lawsuits by the cities of San Francisco and Oakland dismissed.

U.S. District Court Judge William Alsup is scheduled to hear arguments on Thursday on a motion by the companies to throw out the cases.

Federal lawyers argue in their brief that if the two lawsuits succeed, it could stymie domestic and international energy production.

"The United States has strong economic and national security interests in promoting the development of fossil fuels, among other energy resources," according to the 24-page brief filed May 10.

The brief cites President Trump's March 2017 Presidential Executive Order on Promoting Energy Independence and Economic Growth, suggesting the fight being waged by the two cities against the companies runs counter to the administration's support of unrestricted fossil fuel development.

"It's hardly surprising that Donald Trump's Justice Department is cozying up to Big Oil," said John Coté, a spokesman for the San Francisco City Attorney's Office.  "But this a legal matter, not a political one."

The sister cities filed suit last year against ExxonMobil, Chevron, ConocoPhillips, Royal Dutch Shell, and BP, blaming them for the effects of climate change.  The parallel lawsuits seek billions of dollars to build sea walls and other coastal infrastructure to protect neighborhoods and property from sea level rise.

The lawsuits claim the companies produced fossil fuels in disregard of their own understanding of the consequences of global warming.

"This egregious state of affairs is no accident," according to the San Francisco lawsuit.

Read more at Trump Administration Joins Fossil Fuel Companies in Climate Fight Against Cities

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