Oil Giants Targeted With Climate Change Lawsuit

Six of the largest oil and gas companies in the world, as well as a leading association in the energy industry, are facing a lawsuit from the city of Chicago.

The lawsuit accuses the defendants of deceiving city consumers about the “climate dangers” that fossil fuels pose.

The complaint, filed on Tuesday in the Circuit Court of Cook County, lists the American Petroleum Institute, Shell, Phillips 66, ExxonMobil, ConocoPhillips, Chevron and BP as defendants.

Broadly speaking, it accesses these defendants of causing global warming, as well as a series of deadly weather events that hit Chicago over the last few decades.

In a statement released this week, Brandon Johnson, the mayor of Chicago, said:

“There is no justice without accountability. From the unprecedented poor air quality that we experienced last summer to the basement floodings that our residents on the West Side experienced, the consequences of this crisis are severe, as are the costs of surviving them. That is why we are seeking to hold these defendants accountable.”

Mary Richardson-Lowry, who’s representing the city of Chicago as its lawyer, pointed to evidence that the defendants “intentionally misled Chicago residents about the climate change-related dangers associated with their oil and gas products.”

She further said that the lawsuit is being brought against the companies now since they profited from these deceptive tactics and should be held responsible for the effects they have caused.

The lawsuit is seeking compensatory and loss-of-use damages that total hundreds of millions of dollars. In addition, it seeks fines and penalties for various statutory violations.

Chicago wants the companies to be forced to disgorge their profits, and seeks to have the companies enjoined from “engaging in the deceptive and unfair acts and practices alleged in the lawsuit.”

The city didn’t publish a full copy of its complaint, though local newspaper the Chicago Sun-Times obtained a copy that shows the city is alleging 11 counts of nuisance, negligence, conspiracy and fraud.

One weather-related incident in particular the lawsuit highlights is the heat wave that occurred in 1995. More than 700 Chicago residents died as a result of that weather event, and the lawsuit claims that’s evidence that fossil fuels present a significant danger to people.

The lawsuit further accuses all the defendants of causing the increased rain and flooding, and extreme heat, that has come to the city.

Not surprisingly, the defendants don’t agree at all with the allegations put forth in the lawsuit.

Ryan Meyers, who is the senior vice president and general counsel for API, said in a statement:

“The record of the past two decades demonstrates that the industry has achieved its goal of providing affordable, reliable American energy to U.S. consumers while substantially reducing emissions and our environmental footprint.

“This ongoing, coordinated campaign to wage meritless, politicized lawsuits against a foundational American industry and its workers is nothing more than a distraction from important national conversations and an enormous waste of taxpayer resources.”