The City of Annapolis is suing 26 oil and gas companies for what it calls the costs and consequences of climate change.
The city filed the lawsuit Monday in Anne Arundel County Circuit Court. It names some of the biggest fossil fuel companies, including ExxonMobil, Chevron, BP and Shell. Similar lawsuits have begun to pop up across the country. Annapolis is the 25th state or local government to file such a lawsuit, the city said.
The city will argue the companies violated the Maryland Consumer Protection Act and five other actions, including public and private nuisance, negligence, failure to warn and trespass, according to a statement released by Mayor Gavin Buckley’s office Tuesday morning.
“The fossil fuel industry knew for the past 50 years that their industry was pushing the environment to a tipping point where combating climate change would become progressively difficult,” Buckley said during a news conference to discuss the lawsuit. “The companies worked to deceive people of the danger, hiding their knowledge and engaging in an intentional campaign to mislead the public about the science, proving the growing danger posed by fossil fuels.”
The city has retained Sher Edling LLP as outside counsel on a sliding contingency fee that ranges from 16% to 25% based on how much the city is awarded if they are successful. The percentage drops the larger the payout is, said City Attorney Mike Lyles. There will be no out-of-pocket costs to city taxpayers, Lyles said. However, there could be “soft costs” of taking city officials away from their primary duties focus on the suit.
Anne Arundel County is also considering similar litigation against oil and gas companies, County Executive Steuart Pittman said Tuesday during his weekly media briefing. Pittman pointed to the county’s 130 miles of coastline, parts of which are also at risk to rising sea levels. The county will retain Sher Edling as well in their lawsuit.
“Same law firm, similar kind of case, but it’s a separate case,” he said.
There simply is no convincing statistical evidence that climate change caused by fossil fuels is negatively affecting the US, let alone Annapolis. This should be illegal.