Two left-wing Colorado counties and the City of Boulder have sued Exxon Mobil (NYSE: XOM) and Warren Buffet favorite Suncor Energy Inc. (NYSE: SU) for melting the snow.
“They bring this lawsuit against Exxon Mobil Corporation (“Exxon”) and companies affiliated with Suncor Energy Inc. for the substantial role they played and continue to play in causing, contributing to and exacerbating climate change,” the suit filed in Colorado District Court on 17 April 2018 charges.
The plaintiffs are the commissioners of Boulder and San Miguel counties and the City of Boulder. The defendants are Suncor Energy (USA), Suncor Energy Sales Inc., Suncor Energy Inc. and the Exxon-Mobil Corporation.
The governments are being represented by attorney Kevin S. Hannon of the Hannon Law Firm in Denver. They are receiving pro-bono free legal assistance from a group called EarthRights International, The Boulder Daily Camera reported.
The governments alleged Exxon-Mobil and Suncor contributed to global warming by discharging “billions of tons of the excess greenhouse gas emissions into the atmosphere.” That is causing the snowpack to melt in Colorado’s high country, which would threaten Boulder’s water supply and the ski industry in San Miguel County. Telluride; a major ski resort, is the seat of San Miguel County.
Exxon-Mobil and Suncor sued for marketing Fossil Fuels
If it succeeds the suit is potential legal dynamite because it is charging that simply selling fossil fuels harms the environment.
“Defendants promoted, marketed and sold fossil fuel products without disclosing (and in spite of) the climate-altering dangers that they knew – and have long known – were associated with their use,” the suit states.
The plaintiffs also claim that being involved in oil and gas exploration is damaging to the environment.
“Suncor is doing its best to continue growing its production of this dirty fuel source, which enables it to sell such dirty fuels,” the suit states. “Suncor plans to increase tar sands production in 2018 to more than 600,000 barrels a day, up from 505,000 barrels in 2016.”
“And it plans to keep going in the near future: a tar sands project at Fort Hills, Alberta, Canada, will yield an additional 194,000 barrels a day, and 10 smaller projects, set for 2022, would add another 360,000 barrels a day to the company’s production,” the suit continues.
In other words, drilling for oil or pumping it is grounds for a lawsuit. A major contention of the suit is that Exxon-Mobil and Suncor worked hard to develop the tar sands, a major source of oil in Alberta. They also repeat the familiar; and true, charge that the oil industry knew about climate change but did nothing about it.
Lawsuit would Stifle Free Speech
Disturbingly, the lawsuit attempts to stifle the two companies’ First Amendment Right to free speech. Exxon-Mobil and Suncor are being sued for giving money to the American Petroleum Institute (API) a group that ran advertising critical of climate change theories.
Even though the API claims were false and misleading they were clearly constitutionally-protected free speech. Punishing companies for exercising constitutional rights is a frightening precedent the governments and their attorneys should reconsider.
The plaintiffs’ want Exxon-Mobil and Suncor’s businesses declared a public nuisance and the two companies to pay for any damages caused by global warming. Hanson claims Suncor and Exxon-Mobil violated Colorado law by simply marketing fossil in the state after knowledge about global warming became public.
Boulder Lawsuit against Exxon-Mobil is a bad idea
This lawsuit is a very bad idea because no corporation has enough money to cover the costs of the damages that will be done by climate. To make matters worse, the governments are trying to hold Exxon-Mobil and Suncor responsible for bad public policy – which is set by the government not corporations.
At the end of the day, the cause of global warming lies with political leaders who were just as aware of climate change as corporate bigwigs and did nothing. Where is the lawsuit against Congress and the Democratic and Republican parties for not enacting tougher emissions standards, inadequately funding research and development of nuclear energy, and not financing the construction of enough nuclear reactors to make coal unnecessary?
Where are the lawsuits against political figures like; Jimmy Carter, William Jefferson Clinton, George H.W. Bush, George W. Bush, Hillary R. Clinton, Barrack H. Obama, Newt Gingrich, Nancy Pelosi, Paul Ryan jr., Donald J. Trump, and Albert Gore Jr., who did or are doing little or nothing to reduce greenhouse emissions while in office?
In his hysterical book; Storms of My Grandchildren: The Truth About the Coming Climate Catastrophe and Our Last Chance to Save Humanity, James A. Hanson; a former NASA climate scientist cited in the lawsuit, specifically attacks the Clinton administration for pulling the plug on nuclear research that might have reduced the need for burning of fossil fuels. Where is the lawsuit over that?
The answer is we will see no such lawsuits because this litigation is a publicity stunt designed to make leftwing voters in Boulder; popularly known in Colorado as “the People’s Republic” and Telluride feel good. Telluride is the county seat of San Miguel County; and a sort of poor man’s San Moritz for Hollywood elitists that cannot afford Aspen.
A Better Strategy for Combating Global Warming and Making Real Progress
Any time, money, or effort spent on such lawsuits is a waste of time, except for limousine liberals that want to do nothing about climate change. Fortunately, there is a constructive solution that can involve the oil industry.
The Italian National Oil Company Eni SA (NYSE: E) has committed itself to investing up to $50 million in Commonwealth Fusion Systems, MIT News reported. Commonwealth is a company dedicated to commercializing hot-fusion technology developed at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT).
Hot fusion would theoretically end climate change by generating vast amounts of heat that can be used for electricity production without making greenhouse gases or radiation. Commonwealth grew out of work at MIT’s Plasma and Fusion Center (PFC).
The PFC’s head Dennis Whyte has publicly stated that it might be possible to build a working fusion reactor based on its research with off-the-shelf technology within 10 years. Commonwealth hopes to make Whyte’s claim a reality by building a demonstration reactor that would generate up to 100 megawatts, (100 million watts) of electricity.
Eni is so optimistic about Commonwealth Fusion’s chances that it might increase its investment in the unicorn, its head of development operations and technology Robert Casula told Reuters. Casula thinks that a 200-million megawatt commercial fusion reactor based on the MIT research can be up and running by 2033.
Eni is also providing $2 million to help finance the PSC’s Laboratory for Innovation in Fusion Technologies (LIFT), MIT News reported. The LIFT will conduct research and development into technologies needed to support hot-fusion such as new superconducting magnets to contain superhot plasma and artificial intelligence (AI) needed to design and run reactors.
Fusion might the answer to lawsuits and climate change
Eni has found a far better way to deter lawsuits and agitation about climate change than spreading childish propaganda and denying scientific fact. It is investing its money in actual research, based on hard science that might actually yield a profit someday.
Exxon-Mobil and Suncor should do the same and offer to drop the lawsuit in exchange for investment in Commonwealth Fusion Systems or one of its competitors such as Tri-Alpha Technologies. Exxon-Mobil which had $3.177 billion cash and short-term investments on 31 December 2017 can easily afford to invest several hundred million dollars in fusion research.
If the City of Boulder and Boulder County are serious about fighting climate change they can agree to be the site of the first commercial fusion reactor. Commonwealth’s proposed test reactor would generate more than enough electricity to power Boulder; which has a population of around 108,090, and a city government dedicated to buying “”
A 100-megawatt reactor would provide enough carbon-free electricity for around 75,000 homes. The standard calculation is that one megawatt of generation provides enough power for 750 homes. So the fusion reactor would provide enough carbon-free electricity for around 70% of Boulder’s residents.
Perhaps Exxon-Mobil and Suncor should offer to finance a fusion reactor in Boulder, which would quickly be rejected by hysterical leftists. My guess is that many of the lefties supporting the lawsuit would be far more afraid of the hypothetical risks from the fusion reactor than the real danger of climate change. That would expose them as the hypocrites they are.
One hopes that science will prevail and more companies and governments follow Eni’s lead.
The lawsuit is: BOARD OF COUNTY COMMISSIONERS OF BOULDER COUNTY; BOARD OF COUNTY COMMISSIONERS OF SAN MIGUEL COUNTY; CITY OF BOULDER v. SUNCOR ENERGY (U.S.A.), INC.; SUNCOR ENERGY SALES, INC.; SUNCOR ENERGY, INC.; EXXON MOBIL CORPORATION.
A full text of the plaintiff’s complaint has been posted online here: https://earthrights.org/wp-content/uploads/CO-Climate-Complaint.Filed-1.pdf