In the beginning of the year, New York sued five major oil companies. Namely, it demanded ExxonMobil, Chevron, BP, Royal Dutch Shell and ConocoPhillips to pay for the cost of protecting the city from the arising threat that the climate change poses. However, a New York federal judge dismissed the city’s complain.
According to the lawsuit, the city says that it experiences serious problems, caused by climate change, such as coastal erosion and tidal flooding. These dangers cause important risks to the city’s infrastructure and the health its residents.
These risks will have a huge costs, as billions of dollars are expected to be spent. For this reason, New York’s Mayor, Bill de Blasio said that “It’s time for Big Oil to take responsibility for the devastation they have wrought.”
This week, a New York federal judge dismissed the lawsuit brought by New York. Judge John Keenan noted that it’s not the court’s jurisdiction to regulate GHG, as this task lies with the federal government.
Regardless of the manner in which the City frames its claims in its opposition brief, the amended complaint makes clear that the City is seeking damages for global-warming related injuries resulting from greenhouse gas emissions, and not only the production of Defendants’ fossil fuels.
The ruling reads.
In addition, New York City mentioned it the lawsuit that the city is very vulnerable to rising sea level, because of its coastline. It added, that the actions by these five oil companies are accelerating global warming, something that could cause damages to New York.
The city explained that ‘the average annual temperature in New York City has increased at a rate of 0.79°F per decade over the last thirty years. Without mitigation, the hotter summers projected for 2020 could cause an estimated thirty to seventy percent increase in heat related deaths in the New York City.’
However, the Judge dismissed this as well, as he said that the Clean Air Act regulates these issues. In fact, he based this decision on a case of a small city in Alaska which brought action against oil, energy, and utility companies, alleging that the defendants’ “emissions of large quantities of greenhouse gases” had resulted in global-warming related damages, including sea-level rise and severe erosion.
Judge John Keenan said regarding this case:
The Clean Air Act displaced plaintiff’s federal common law claim seeking damages for harm caused by past emissions, as the Clean Air Act already provides a means to regulate carbon dioxide emissions from domestic power plants.