On Monday, U.S. District Judge William Alsup released a detailed 16 page ruling that ends a years’ long effort by liberal mayors in Oakland and San Francisco to sue big oil companies, including Bay Area based Chevron.
The suits by Oakland and San Francisco sought money from oil companies to pay for a sea level rise that has yet to materialize, but is on the way, according the models cited in the litigation. The cases brought by Oakland and San Francisco were among the first serious efforts by municipalities which sought compensation for the alleged impact of fossil fuels on the climate. The central tenant of the lawsuits brought against the oil companies is the belief that like Tobacco companies, oil companies create a public hazard by continuing the production of fossil fuels.
Judge Alsup noted that the cities of Oakland and San Francisco have inarguably benefited from the production of fossil fuels. Although remarks to this effect were made by Judge Alsup, the final decision did not attempt to tabulate the grand total of all the costs and benefits provided to the cities by fossil fuels.
U.S. District Judge William Alsup said in part: “Having reaped the benefit of that historic progress, would it really be fair to now ignore our own responsibility in the use of fossil fuels and place the blame for global warming on those who supplied what we demanded?” he wrote. “Is it really fair, in light of those benefits, to say that the sale of fossil fuels was unreasonable?”
Attorneys for the cities of Oakland and San Francisco say that they are not yet ready to concede defeat and that they are currently reviewing their options.