Chevron and BP filed an objection Friday to King County’s attempt to delay a climate lawsuit against them until the county can determine the fate of similar litigation in California.
King County officials in Washington state alleged in May that Chevron’s oil production poses an “imminent” threat to the safety of its citizens. They now want a stay due to appeals in similar cases brought by San Francisco and Oakland that will linger in the courts for a year.
“King County has waited too long to seek a stay,” Chevron noted in its objection, effectively asking the county to continue with its suit. “If it thought a stay was appropriate then it should have sought one soon after Judge Alsup dismissed the Oakland and San Francisco cases.”
The company was referring to U.S. District Judge William Alsup’s decision in June that climate change was best tackled through the legislature and not the courts. Both companies are now questioning the legitimacy of King County’s claims.
“Abandoning its earlier allegations of imminent and real harm, it appears King County now has no urgency to prosecute its lawsuit at all,” Chevron and BP noted in their objection. (RELATED: Judge Tosses Out New York City’s Climate Change Lawsuit)
The suit, which was brought by Seattle-based law firm Hagens Berman Sobol Shapiro, sought to create an abatement fund addressing changes to infrastructure, like bridge maintenance, salmon recovery and public health.
Hagens Berman is also behind the Oakland and San Francisco’s litigation, which is currently in the appeal process following Alsup’s decision. The law firm stood to rake in billions of dollars in contingency fees depending on the total winnings from a favorable judgement against oil companies.
Cities and trial lawyers argue the alleged effects of global warming, including sea level rise and extreme weather, violate public nuisance laws. Cities want oil companies to pay for past damages and future mitigation projects.
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