King County in Washington State Files Lawsuit Against Five Largest Oil CompaniesTweet
Seattle, WA – On May 9th, King County, the largest county in Washington and home to Seattle, filed a lawsuit in King County Superior Court against the five largest oil companies over their role in climate change.
Specifically, the lawsuit seeks to hold the “five largest oil companies responsible for knowingly contributing to climate disruptions and putting the residents of King County at greater risk of floods, landslides, ocean acidification, sea level rise, and other impacts.”
According to their press release, “The legal action against BP, Chevron, Exxon Mobil, Royal Dutch and ConocoPhillips seeks an order requiring the companies to fund the costs of adapting infrastructure such as stormwater management, as well as salmon recovery, protecting public health, and other costs.
“The science is undisputable: climate change is impacting our region today, and it will only cause greater havoc and hardships in the future,” said King County Executive Dow Constantine. “The companies that profited the most from fossil fuels should help bear the costs of managing these disasters. Big Oil spent many decades disregarding and dismissing what is our most pressing generational challenge. We must hold these companies accountable as we marshal our resources to protect and preserve what makes this region great.”
Attorneys for the county say this abatement fund could be in the hundreds of millions of dollars. The lawsuit was developed with the Seattle-based law firm Hagens Berman Sobol Shapiro LLP, which helped lead the historic case and settlement against Big Tobacco in the 1990’s.
Jurisdictions in California, New York and Colorado have filed similar lawsuits.
King County noted in its 2015 Strategic Climate Action Plan: “Even if global and GHG [greenhouse gas] emissions decrease dramatically, many climate change impacts are now inevitable and preparation for those changes is essential.”
Already, areas of King County that were once above the mean high tide line now experience regular flooding. Sea level is projected to continue rising through the 21st century, increasing by as much as 56 inches in the Puget Sound region from 2000 to 2100. This would have significant consequences for King County and the region.”
In April, representatives of Mazaska Talks (Matt Remle co-founder), 350 Seattle (Emily Johnson 350 Seattle Board President) and the Seattle Peoples Party (Nikkita Oliver co-founder) issued a letter calling on Seattle’s attorney to join in the lawsuits filed by New York and Los Angeles against the big five oil companies.
In press release they state, “Globally, climate change has the most devastating impact on the nations of the Global South nations that have done the least to contribute to global warming and that have benefited the least from carbon-intensive development. Domestically, the impacts of climate change are falling most heavily on communities of color, low-income communities, and indigenous communities, which also have done little to cause the problem and benefited little from carbon-intensive development.
Climate change also takes a huge economic toll. In 2017, a non-partisan federal watchdog, the Government Accountability Office, found that “climate related-impacts, such as coastal property damage, have already cost the federal government billions of dollars, and these costs will likely rise in the future.” Like the rest of the country and the planet, Seattle is poised to bear the brunt of paying the economic costs of climate change, which the fossil fuel industry has caused and profited from.”
King County joins numerous cities and counties across the country filing lawsuits against the major oil companies over the impact of climate change and their knowingly contributing to it.
by Wakíƞyaƞ Waánataƞ (Matt Remle)