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Author Topic: People of State of California v. BP p.l.c.  (Read 1870 times)

Rob Dekker

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People of State of California v. BP p.l.c.
« on: March 23, 2018, 07:33:16 AM »
There is an interesting lawsuit ongoing in US Federal court, which I don't think has been posted upon on these threads yet.

The Cities of San Francisco and Oakland (and a few more) filed suit against the major oil companies, specifically BP P.L.C, CHEVRON CORPORATION, CONOCOPHILLIPS, EXXON MOBIL and ROYAL DUTCH SHELL, claiming :

Quote
San Francisco Asked State Court to Require Oil and Gas Companies to Fund Climate Adaptation Program.

San Francisco filed a lawsuit in California Superior Court against five oil and gas companies alleging that the carbon emissions from their fossil fuel production had created an unlawful public nuisance.

The complaint alleged that the defendants had produced and promoted the use of “massive amounts” of fossil fuels despite having been aware since the 1950s, based on information from the American Petroleum Institute, that emissions from fossil fuels would cause severe and even catastrophic climate change impacts. The complaint alleged that San Francisco was already experiencing impacts from accelerated sea level rise due to climate change. The city asked the court to require the companies to abate the nuisance by funding a climate adaptation program to build sea walls and other infrastructure necessary to protect public and private property from sea level rise and other climate impacts.

Here is the full overview of documents filed in the case so far :
http://climatecasechart.com/case/people-state-california-v-bp-plc-oakland/

The claim is one based on "public nuisance", specifically that the product these companies sell leads to global warming, which leads to sea level rise, and the public needs to build sea walls and other efforts to mitigate that. Sounds plausible to me.

There have been several interesting developments in this case :

First of all, the judge has asked for a 'tutorial' on science of climate change and has asked 8 questions to be answered by both the plaintiffs and the defendants :

1) What caused the various ice ages (including the “little ice age” and prolonged cool periods) and what caused the ice to melt? When they melted, by how much did sea level rise?
2) What is the molecular difference by which CO2 absorbs infrared radiation but oxygen and nitrogen do not?
3) What is the mechanism by which infrared radiation trapped by CO2 in the atmosphere is turned into heat and finds its way back to sea level?
4) Does CO2 in the atmosphere reflect any sunlight back into space such that the reflected sunlight never penetrates the atmosphere in the first place?
5) Apart from CO2, what happens to the collective heat from tail pipe exhausts, engine radiators, and all other heat from combustion of fossil fuels? How, if at all, does this collective heat contribute to warming of the atmosphere?
6) In grade school, many of us were taught that humans exhale CO2 but plants absorb CO2 and return oxygen to the air (keeping the carbon for fiber). Is this still valid? If so, why hasn’t plant life turned the higher levels of CO2 back into oxygen? Given the increase in human population on Earth (four billion), is human respiration a contributing factor to the buildup of CO2?
7) What are the main sources of CO2 that account for the incremental buildup of CO2 in the atmosphere?
8) What are the main sources of heat that account for the incremental rise in temperature on Earth?

This has caused a lot of internet activity, with RealClimate getting it right :
http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2018/03/alsup-asks-for-answers/
and some outlets (like the guardian) getting it partly right and partly wrong :
https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2018/mar/21/a-judge-asks-basic-questions-about-climate-change-we-answer-them
to the climate change denier trolls coming out with totally off assertions, not answering the judge's questions at all.

For example, (not a Lord) Monckton has even filed an official amici curiae in support of the oil companies in this case. I'm not even kidding, here it is :
http://blogs2.law.columbia.edu/climate-change-litigation/wp-content/uploads/sites/16/case-documents/2018/20180316_docket-317-cv-06011_amicus-motion.pdf

The 4 hour 'tutorial' on climate science was yesterday, and it appears that this is the first time that the fossil fuel industry officially declared that the planet is warming because of GHG emissions. The Mercury has a report here :

https://www.mercurynews.com/2018/03/21/unusual-court-hearing-on-climate-change-underway-in-san-francisco-court/

The Defendants have already filed numerous motions to dismiss this suit. With Royal Dutch Shell for example stating rather annoying weasel phrases like :

Quote
Royal Dutch Shell is a holding company....It conducts no operations of its own; in particular, it does not produce, transport, market, or sell fossil fuels and has never produced, transported, marketed, or sold fossil fuels.

The floor is open for opinions and facts on this suit, please comment.
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Archimid

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Re: People of State of California v. BP p.l.c.
« Reply #1 on: March 23, 2018, 11:37:05 AM »
I read somewhere that even though the  fossils agreed with the IPCC, most of the data they presented used data from before 2012. The last 5 record hot, record disastrous years were left out of their presentation.

Even in court they continue to deceive.
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Sigmetnow

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Re: People of State of California v. BP p.l.c.
« Reply #2 on: March 24, 2018, 12:36:03 AM »
Related comments can be found in the “Legal Approach to Climate Change Resolutions“ thread.

https://forum.arctic-sea-ice.net/index.php/topic,1207.msg129621.html#msg129621

https://forum.arctic-sea-ice.net/index.php/topic,1207.msg145048.html#msg145048.  Et seq.  ;)
People who say it cannot be done should not interrupt those who are doing it.

Rob Dekker

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Re: People of State of California v. BP p.l.c.
« Reply #3 on: March 24, 2018, 02:33:01 AM »
Related comments can be found in the “Legal Approach to Climate Change Resolutions“ thread.

Thanks Sigmetnow. I knew it was discussed somewhere on ASIF, I just couldn't find it.
That's why I opened a separate thread. :)
« Last Edit: March 24, 2018, 02:50:22 AM by Rob Dekker »
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Rob Dekker

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Re: People of State of California v. BP p.l.c.
« Reply #4 on: March 24, 2018, 02:51:55 AM »
William Connolley gives a good overview of what has come out of this suit so far, which is actually pretty positive :

Quote
The main outcome of the "tutorial" as I understand it was Chevron's lawyer essentially agreeing with the IPCC (for example, in their submission, the very first statement is “IPCC Fifth Assessment Report: It is extremely likely that human influence has been the dominant cause of the observed warming since the mid-20th century.”). The other oil companies didn't speak, and have been given not-very-long to say whether they disagree with anything he said. I hope they make no substantive disagreements, because then finally we could have a discussion about GW in which the important point is not the science - which all sane people are agreed on, to the degree needed - but questions of responsibility and perhaps economics. This would also relieve the court of the tedium of having to read Monkers' or HKL's screeds. Or the latecoming nonsense from the "Concerned Household Electricity Consumers Council", aka an astroturf front for Joseph D’Aleo. What is it with these nutters?

http://mustelid.blogspot.com/2018/03/alsup-todays-news.html
« Last Edit: March 24, 2018, 03:00:03 AM by Rob Dekker »
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Rob Dekker

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Re: People of State of California v. BP p.l.c.
« Reply #5 on: March 31, 2018, 09:51:17 AM »
Some development in this case :

The court asked for similar "nuisance" cases :

http://blogs2.law.columbia.edu/climate-change-litigation/wp-content/uploads/sites/16/case-documents/2018/20180327_docket-317-cv-06011_notice.pdf

Quote
On March 27, the court issued a notice directing the parties to address four issues in the remainder of the briefing on the motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim:
(1) all state and federal court decisions sustaining and rejecting a nuisance theory of liability “based on the otherwise lawful sale of a product where the seller financed and/or sponsored research or advertising intended to cast doubt on studies showing that use of the product would harm public health or the environment at large”;
(2) all state and federal court decisions addressing a nuisance theory of liability in the context of global warming;
(3) the extent to which the Noerr-Pennington doctrine (pursuant to which antitrust violations cannot be predicated on attempts to influence public officials or the passage or enforcement of laws) may apply; and
(4) if the plaintiffs’ theory of liability based on questioning or sponsoring research to question global warming science is correct, why everyone involved in supplying carbon-based fuels or otherwise involved in increasing carbon dioxide would not be liable if they questioned the science or sponsored research intending to question it.

This is going to be a touch one for plaintiffs to answer, but central to the case (of claims of "nuisance").

Also some pretty good answers to Shell's motion to dismiss.
http://blogs2.law.columbia.edu/climate-change-litigation/wp-content/uploads/sites/16/case-documents/2018/20180328_docket-317-cv-06011_response-2.pdf

Read it all here :
http://climatecasechart.com/case/people-state-california-v-bp-plc-oakland/
This is our planet. This is our time.
Let's not waste either.