Santa Cruz Enters Legal Battle with Major Oil Companies

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In December 2017, Santa Cruz joined the lawsuit against 29 fossil fuel agencies over negligence of greenhouse gas emissions. The defendants — top fossil fuel companies such as Exxon, Chevron and Shell — are accused of not only knowing for over half a century of the harmful effects greenhouse gas emissions have on the environment, but also actively working to discredit global climate change.

Santa Cruz is the fourth California entity to join the lawsuit, alongside Marin and San Mateo counties and

the city of Imperial Beach.
The legal complaint, put forth by

Santa Cruz City Attorney Anthony Condotti, states the defendants are responsible for the release of “215.9 gigatons of carbon dioxide emissions between 1965 and 2015,” or 17.5 percent of global greenhouse emissions. As a result, Santa Cruz is likely to suffer damage from increased sea levels, more erratic weather patterns and an increased probability of wildfire.

The multinational oil company Exxon released its response in a Texas petition on Jan. 8, 2018. Exxon claims

the California cities involved in the lawsuit are run by special interest groups and politicians who care more about pushing their own legislation than environmental caution.

“It is reasonable to infer that the municipalities brought these lawsuits not because of a bona fide belief in any tortious conduct by the defendants or actual damage to their jurisdictions,” according to a statement from Exxon, “but instead to coerce ExxonMobil and others operating in the Texas energy sector to adopt policies aligned with those favored by local politicians in California.”

In light of Exxon’s response, the city of Santa Cruz stands by its original claims and will continue with the lawsuit.

“Clearly our city council and our community is concerned about the impact to the environment and climate change, which is why obviously we adopted a climate action plan to do our part,” said City Manager Martin Bernal. “So what is motivating our actions is trying to address these impacts and trying to mitigate them and respond to them.”