Chicago Launches Lawsuits Against Major Oil Companies

( – The city of Chicago has sued six leading oil companies along with the main fossil fuel lobbying group over allegations they orchestrated a campaign of climate change denial that impacted the residents of the city. The lawsuit claims that the impact of climate mitigation and projects responding to climate change on low-income communities has cost almost $200 million.

The city contended that dangerous temperatures during summer, extreme weather, coastline erosion, and vulnerability to flash floods affected the West Side of the city. Though not alone in launching such lawsuits, Chicago, as the third-biggest city in the country, is one of the largest to do so thus far.

The city’s lawsuit alleged that companies BP, Chevron, ConocoPhillips, Exxon Mobil, and Shell discredited science while harming the environment and accused them of multiple counts of fraud, conspiracy, negligence, and nuisance and of failing to sufficiently warn about the impact of the fossil fuels. Democratic Chicago Mayor Brandon Johnson stressed that justice required accountability and vowed to hold the companies responsible for poor air quality and floods.

The nearly 200-page filing blamed the defendants for weather events stretching back decades, such as the 1995 heatwave that killed more than 700 residents in the city. President of the Center for Climate Integrity, Richard Wiles, claimed that oil companies have been lying for decades about the environmental impact of fossil fuels and that cities such as Chicago were right to demand compensation. Senior Vice President and General Counsel of API Ryan Meyers claimed that over the previous two decades, they had achieved their goal of providing affordable energy and reducing emissions. Chevron counsel Theodore Boutrous argued that legislation rather than nationwide piecemeal litigation was the best way to address climate change. Shell spoke along the same lines, saying their position on climate change had been known for decades and that effective government policies were the answer rather than the courtroom.

California-based law firm Sher Edling is representing Chicago in the lawsuit and has a history of spearheading legal campaigns against the oil industry. The firm has also filed cases on behalf of Baltimore, Delaware, Honolulu, Minnesota, New Jersey, New York City, Rhode Island, San Francisco, and Washington DC, as well as several local governments across the US.

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