Chevron Blasts NYC's Pending Lawsuit as "Meritless"

FEB. 13 2015 FILE

A New York Times article this week describes efforts to redraw the city's flood maps, noting, "With its 520 miles of coastline and thousands of acres of waterfront development, New York has more residents living in high-risk flood zones than any other city in the country".

New York Mayor Bill de Blasio, shown at his January 1 swearing-in, announced Wednesday that city pension funds would divest from fossil fuel investments.

The suit names Exxon Mobil, BP and Conoco Phillips along with Chevron and Royal Dutch Shell. Most recently, the city of Santa Cruz filed a lawsuit that asks for fossil fuel companies to pay for damages associated not just with sea level rise, but with climate-related changes to the hydrologic cycle and its resulting impact on drought and wildfire. Which makes sense because NY, a city surrounded by water, is on the frontline when it comes to climate change impacts as well, from sea level rise to intense storms.

Climate advocates hailed what they say is a "watershed" moment on Wednesday following two announcements by New York City: that the city would seek to divest its pension funds from fossil fuels within five years, and that it filed suit against five fossil fuel giants for their role in driving the climate crisis. Suspending the growth of gas-fired generation capacity could indeed lead to serious problems with energy supply in NY and New England. Chevron spokesman Braden Reddall spoke to ABC News and said that suing oil companies will not help efforts to combat climate change.

In a statement to National Observer, Shell spokesman Ray Fisher said "climate change is a complex societal challenge that should be addressed through sound government policy and cultural change to drive low-carbon choices for businesses and consumers, not by the courts".

"Betámia Coronel, 350.orgStringer announced last month that he would soon bring a proposal to the trustees of the pension funds that included divestment".

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The lawsuit also alleges that all of the companies were aware of their impact on climate change but instead, "sought to obscure them", the Washington Post notes. Works carried out using this initial funding will be the "first step" in preparing the city for climate change, but more will be needed. In 2016, he blocked the construction of the Constitution pipeline that would have transported natural gas from Pennsylvania to upstate NY and New England. The revelation was accompanied by reports that NYCHA, the city authority that runs the housing projects, had falsified lead-inspection reports, prompting calls for independent state monitoring.

Hurricane Sandy upended the city in 2012.

As reported by ABC News, Exxon Mobil's Scott Silvestri said: "Reducing greenhouse gas emissions is a global issue and requires global participation and actions".

ACCF cited a recent survey from the Spectrem Group, which found that 66 percent of NY retirement system members want managers to focus on maximizing returns and returning the city to fully funded status.

"Today's announcement sends a message that clean investments are a priority and ensures pensions are funded with the best interest of New Yorkers in mind", Powers said in the January 10 statement. De Blasio's team hopes that the other funds will join, too.

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