California’s Climate Litigation

It’s going to be a loser, on multiple levels:

San Mateo County claimed in its complaint to be “particularly vulnerable to sea level rise” with a 93 percent the county will experience a “devastating” flood before 2050. Imperial Beach and Marin County also claimed in their separate complaints to be vulnerable to devastating floods because of climate change.

“If sea levels were to raise that high, it most certainly would be catastrophic,” Epstein said.

However, bond offerings in the last few years by those counties and cities weren’t so forthcoming about those predictions, Exxon said in a verified petition filed last month with the District Court in Tarrant County, Texas.

San Mateo’s 2014 and 2016 bond offerings told would-be investors that the county “is unable to predict whether sea-level rise or other impacts of climate change or flooding from a major storm will occur,” Exxon’s petition said.

Imperial Beach and Marin County never disclosed the same information to perspective bond investors that was detailed in their complaints against the energy companies, Exxon’s petition said.

Making those claims in their lawsuits against energy companies – but not in their bond offerings – smacks of hypocrisy, Exxon is arguing.

As he says, cross-examination will be brutal.

4 thoughts on “California’s Climate Litigation”

    1. Yes, hypocrisy would not be the concern here. Having different legally relevant stories which appear solely determined by their interests of the moment are. Either they committed securities fraud then when they issued those bonds or they are litigating in bad faith now – perhaps both.

  1. It is said that Abe Lincoln in his career as an attorney did just that. The judge took him to task, “This morning you argued that one interpretation of the law is correct, this afternoon you are arguing the exact opposite — which interpretation to you deem correct.” Without pause Lincoln replied, “The one I am offering right now, your Honor!”

    1. The difference is that reversing one’s argument in court is merely greatly detrimental to their case. It has no legal consequence otherwise. Security fraud does.

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