Boulder County and Boulder Add ‘civil Conspiracy’ to Climate Change Lawsuit
Boulder County and the city of Boulder have amended their climate change lawsuit against two fossil fuel producers to add another cause for the action, alleging that both ExxonMobil and Suncor Energy engaged in a “civil conspiracy.”
In nearly identical language as it applies to both defendants, the Boulder governments — along with co-plaintiff San Miguel County — charge that the two petroleum companies “and their co-conspirators jointly targeted their fossil fuel activities at the State of Colorado, including through the co-conspirators based in, doing business in and/or incorporated in Colorado.”
The new cause of action, which runs the better part of nine pages, alleges that the defendants “had concerted goals to maintain and/or increase fossil fuel usage at levels they knew were sufficient to alter the climate, and to fail to disclose material information concerning their fossil fuel activities,” including the damage to the climate that use of their products would cause.
They did so, it claims, “so as to maintain and increase their profits from the sale of their fossil fuel products and services in spite of the increasing alteration of the climate.”
Damages associated with the companies’ “concerted unlawful actions” alleged in the amended complaint include the costs of analyzing the future impacts of climate alteration, the costs of wildfire response, the expense of managing pine beetle infestation, the costs associated with increased drought conditions, the future expense of infrastructure construction and repair, and more.
Oil industry advocates have been critical of the lawsuit since it was filed April 17 . Lindsey De La Torre, executive director of the National Association of Manufacturers’ Manufacturers’ Accountability Project (MAP) has issued a statement assailing the revised complaint, noting the lack of support the legal action has seen from, for example, Conservation Colorado, or any of the candidates for governor, Republican or Democrat.
“Add that to the fact that Colorado taxpayers could be on the hook for this frivolous lawsuit, and only then can you begin to see this for what it is: a public relations stunt,” the statement said. “Rather than doubling down on this lawsuit, Boulder should have withdrawn the complaint entirely and present a legitimate course of action for solving the global issue of climate change.”
Also, Energy in Depth, an advocacy arm of the Petroleum Association of America, called attention to the fact that the suit comes on the heels of a hearing in a similar case filed by New York City in which a judge’s comments from the bench appeared to cast doubt on that lawsuit’s merits.
The Boulder lawsuit is the first such case filed by governments in an interior state, but eight similar cases have been brought against extraction industry representatives in California, in addition to the case filed in New York.
“Aren’t the plaintiffs using the product? Does the city have clean hands?” U.S. District Judge John F. Keenan challenged, in questioning New York City’s standing to bring a lawsuit seeking unspecified damages from BP, Chevron, ConocoPhillips, ExxonMobil and Royal Dutch Shell.
“Yes, the city uses fossil fuels,” city attorney Matthew Pawa responded, according to CNBC.
Charlie Brennan: 303-473-1327, email@example.com or twitter.com/chasbrennan