Overnight Energy: California cities sue oil giants over climate change

Overnight Energy: California cities sue oil giants over climate change
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SAN FRANCISCO AND OAKLAND VS. BIG OIL: San Francisco and Oakland, Calif., are suing five major oil companies, blaming them for the effects of climate change.

The cities announced Wednesday they each filed a lawsuit in their respective county courts against Chevron Corp., ConocoPhillips Co., ExxonMobil Corp., Royal Dutch Shell and BP.

The lawsuits by two of California's largest cities add to an emerging legal strategy to try to hold individual fossil fuel companies responsible for rising sea levels, extreme weather and other effects of human-induced climate change.

"These companies knew fossil fuel-driven climate change was real, they knew it was caused by their products and they lied to cover up that knowledge to protect their astronomical profits," alleged Barbara Parker (D), Oakland's city attorney.

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The cities sit on opposite sides of San Francisco Bay, which has already seen rising water levels due to climate change. The city attorneys say that further increases in sea level would inundate properties and cause billions of dollars worth of damage.

The lawsuits are far from the first attempt to sue fossil fuel companies for climate change, but previous actions have not been successful. A 2008 lawsuit by an Alaska village, for example, was dismissed because the federal court ruled that the Clean Air Act overrode any public nuisance claim.

But just two months ago, Marin and San Mateo counties, also in Northern California, sued some major oil companies in state court using similar arguments.

"These fossil fuel companies profited handsomely for decades while knowing they were putting the fate of our cities at risk," San Francisco City Attorney Dennis Herrera (D) said in a statement.

Read more here.

 

KERRY TAKES ON TRUMP OVER PARIS: John KerryJohn KerryPressure grows for breakthrough in Biden agenda talks Overnight Energy & Environment — Presented by ExxonMobil — Climate divides conservative Democrats in reconciliation push Equilibrium/Sustainability — Presented by Altria — Walrus detectives: Scientists recruit public to spot mammal from space MORE, former President Obama's secretary of state, slammed the Trump administration Wednesday over its decision to pull out of the Paris climate deal.

Saying the agreement is "not a real estate deal that transpired in a matter of days or weeks or even months," Kerry said Trump's decision to pull out of the accord was "political" and damaging to the country's international reputation.

"No burden was placed on the United States other than what we in United States defined for ourselves," Kerry said, pushing back on Trump's contention that the agreement is unfair to the U.S.

"The president didn't have to pull out. That was political. All he had to do was say: 'I want to change the targets a little bit.' Instead, he forfeited American leadership, he put at risk the momentum has been created and he said to the American people, 'I'm buying into the denial hoax.'"

Kerry was speaking Wednesday at an event with Democratic governors announcing a new report that shows 14 states plus Puerto Rico are on track to reduce their collective greenhouse gas emissions by 24 percent to 29 percent by 2025, putting them on track to hit their share of the U.S. goal in the Paris agreement.

Read more here.

 

Nicaragua to sign Paris deal, lumping US with Syria: Nicaragua is preparing to join the Paris agreement, making Syria the only country not to be a party to the deal and the U.S. the only nation determined to pull out of it.

Nicaragua President Daniel Ortega told local media this week that the country is preparing to sign the deal, under which nations determine individual greenhouse gas reduction plans.

"We will soon adhere, we will sign the Paris Agreement," he said, according to Nicaraguan newspaper El Nuevo Diaro.

Nicaragua initially resisted the Paris deal because its negotiators said the accord's goals were too weak. The country is a renewable energy powerhouse, and is aiming to get 90 percent of its energy from renewable sources by 2020, and it encouraged Paris negotiators to set tougher climate goals when crafting the accord.

Syria, meanwhile, is in the midst of a civil war and has not engaged on the Paris deal. The U.S. under Trump is the only country to say it will pull out of the deal.

Read more here.

 

CALIFORNIA SUES OVER BORDER WALL: California sued to stop the Trump administration's planned border wall Wednesday, citing its waivers of environmental laws.

California Attorney General Xavier BecerraXavier BecerraOvernight Health Care — Presented by the National Council for Mental Wellbeing — FDA panel endorses booster shots of Johnson & Johnson vaccine Biden administration to invest 0 million to boost health care, attract workers FDA guidance calls for voluntary salt reduction in food supply MORE (D) argued that the Department of Homeland Security did not have the authority to waive the National Environmental Policy Act and dozens of other laws in order to start building the wall along California's border with Mexico.

The lawsuit also claims that the DHS violated the 10th Amendment of the Constitution and the separation of powers doctrine.

"The Trump administration has once again ignored laws it doesn't like in order to resuscitate a campaign talking point and build a wall on our southern border," Becerra said in the statement. "President Trump has yet to pivot from candidate Trump to a leader of a nation built on the rule of law. That's dangerous."

Congress has yet to fully fund the construction of the wall. Trump did not insist that the funding be included in the deal struck earlier this month to fund the government through December.

Read more here.

 

MARIA KNOCKS OUT PUERTO RICO POWER: Hurricane Maria knocked out power in all of Puerto Rico Wednesday, after making landfall as a Category 4 storm.

"We are 100 percent without power," a spokesman for Gov. Ricardo Rosselló's (D) office told CNN.

The storm slammed into Puerto Rico with 155 MPH winds that slowed down to 140 mph by 11 a.m., but were still capable of causing structural damage.

Maria is expected to move toward the Dominican Republic by Wednesday night.

"Puerto Rico, in terms of the infrastructure, will not be the same," said Carlos Mercader, a spokesman for Rosselló. "This is something of historic proportions."

Read more here.

 

AROUND THE WEB:

West Virginia coal executive James Laurita Jr. has been charged with allegedly funneling campaign donations through his employees, the Charleston Gazette-Mail reports.

Anadarko Petroleum Corp. is planning to buy back $2.5 billion of shares from investors, Reuters reports.

The administration of Alaska Gov. Bill Walker (I) has appointed a new climate adviser and is promising a new climate policy soon, Alaska Public Media reports.

The EPA is installing a barrier and valve inside the abandoned Gold King Mine in Colorado to prevent another spill like the one that occurred in 2015, the Denver Post reports.

 

IN CASE YOU MISSED IT:

Check out Wednesday's stories...

-Nicaragua to sign Paris deal, leaving US, Syria as only countries opposed

-Ryan: More hurricane aid likely coming in October

-Ryan surveys Florida hurricane damage from military plane

-San Francisco, Oakland sue oil companies over climate change

-Hurricane Maria knocks out power in all of Puerto Rico

-Kerry to Trump: Paris agreement not some quick 'real estate deal'

-California files lawsuit over Trump's border wall

-EPA pulls officers from other duties to protect Pruitt: report

 

Please send tips and comments to Timothy Cama, tcama@thehill.com and Devin Henry dhenry@thehill.com. Follow us on Twitter: @Timothy_Cama@dhenry@thehill