Honolulu wants big oil to pay for climate crisis-related damage
Honolulu is going after the profits of big oil companies, such as Exxon Mobil, BP, and Chevron, joining at least a dozen other cities and counties across the country and the state of Rhode Island in suing fossil fuel firms for a climate crisis environmentalists say the industry helped create.
"They knew and then they covered it up by putting out disinformation so that action would not be taken," said Mayor Kirk Caldwell: "For 50 years, they knew this. Much like tobacco, they said nothing until lawsuits started to be filed and we started to change that industry."
"They had studies done they had evidence that that what they were doing in terms of producing oil and emitting carbons up into the atmosphere, that they would affect this climate dramatically and raise the level of the sea," said Mayor Caldwell, who noted that in Oahu alone, sea level has already risen some three feet affecting places such as Kualoa Beach Park, Kuhio Beach and Aina Haina. He wants compensation from the oil companies.
The Mayor today announced the city's plan to sue fossil fuel companies, saying like tobacco companies, the oil industry launched a campaign to mislead the public to boost profits and delay preventative action.
Before it can go to court, the the Honolulu City Council has to adopt a resolution approving the plan. It will hold the first public hearing on the issue on Nov. 12.
"It's only fair that the fossil fuel companies be required to pay for costs and damages that they caused to the environment and the billions of dollars that it would take for us to protect our infrastructure from the effects and the negative impacts of climate change," said Honolulu City Council member Ron Menor.
Mayor Caldwell wants $15 billion to protect and relocate roads across the state and recover $13 billion in property losses from sea level rise in Oahu.
Honolulu officials say they will work with California law firm Sher Edling which has experience in such cases on a contingency basis, at no cost to Oahu taxpayers.
Honolulu Deputy Corporation Counsel Paul Aoki says the City has a good chance of winning a lawsuit, especially if the case remains in state court. That's because federal judges in California and New York have already thrown out similar cases.