New York City Just Sued 5 Oil Companies. Could Chicago?

New York City to Announce Climate Lawsuit Against Oil Companies

Well, yesterday in New York City, listening to Mayor Bill de Blasio announce that the city had just filed a lawsuit against five oil majors and meant to divest $5 billion from fossil fuel companies, I actually felt it.

New York Mayor Bill de Blasio and his administration have made a decision to push back on climate change by suing some of the U.S.' biggest oil companies, claiming each was involved in harming our environment by continuing to burn fuel despite knowing its harmful effects and "intentionally misled the public to protect their profits".

Mayor de Blasio said: "New York City is standing up for future generations by becoming the first major United States city to divest our pension funds from fossil fuels".

"This lawsuit is based upon the fundamental principle that a corporation that makes a product causing severe harm when used exactly as intended should shoulder the costs of abating that harm", New York City wrote in the lawsuit.

"New York City is standing up for future generations by becoming the first major US city to divest our pension funds from fossil fuels", de Blasio said in a statement.

Legal experts have compared the wave of climate lawsuits to the lawsuits brought against the tobacco industry in the 1990s, which ultimately resulted in a $365.5 billion settlement wherein major tobacco producers agreed to pay into a fund to offset health-related tobacco costs.

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The city hopes to build on legal efforts against producers of asbestos products, cigarettes and lead paint in what would be an extension of legal responsibility.

"The concept of fossil fuel company accountability for the hidden costs of their massive carbon emissions is extremely powerful", he states.

The divestment announcement comes less than a month after Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo promised to cease the state's investments in entities "with significant fossil-fuel activities", and created an advisory committee to "develop a decarbonization road map".

"Nonetheless, they deliberately engaged in a campaign of deception and denial about global warming and its impacts, even while profiting from the sale of fossil fuels and protecting their own assets from the effects of rising seas and a changing climate". The cities of San Francisco and Oakland and the city and county of Santa Cruz have also filed suit this year. The company said in a statement that it "welcomes any well-meaning and good faith attempts to address the risks of climate change".

Chevron spokesman Braden Reddall spoke to ABC News and said that suing oil companies will not help efforts to combat climate change.

The money is seen as necessary to make NY more resilient against extreme weather events.

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Last year, the New York City Department of Environmental Protection stated that $400 million will be poured into resiliency upgrades to the area's sea level and storm surge management.

Michael Burger, executive director of Columbia Law School's Sabin Center for Climate Change Law, said no city has successfully sued a fossil-fuel company for climate change damages.

"Sandy taught us how destructive weather events exacerbated by climate change can be", a statement from de Blasio's office said.

New York's suit is particularly notable because its attorney general is investigating whether ExxonMobil misled investors about its risks to climate change. Let's be clear: "that's where it came from", de Blasio said.

Bill McKibben, an author and co-founder of climate advocacy group 350.org, praised the city's actions on Wednesday.

In addition to New York City, one other non-Californian city - Boulder, Colorado - has indicated an interest in filing a lawsuit against fossil fuel companies for their role in climate change.

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