Washington County files latest lawsuit targeting big oil over climate damages

King County says its shellfish industry is endangered by ocean acidification

On May 9, yet another local government joined the roster of cities and counties suing fossil fuel companies for climate-change-related damages when King County, Washington—home to Seattle—filed suit against the five largest publicly traded oil corporations.

There are now more than a dozen local jurisdictions seeking to recover damages from the major carbon polluters. Eight California cities and counties—including San Francisco and Oakland—have filed suits against the fossil fuel giants, arguing that those companies share some of the responsibility for the costs of climate-change-related sea level rise. New York City filed a similar suit in January; in April, two Colorado counties and the city of Boulder sued ExxonMobil and Canadian oil company Suncor.

The King County lawsuit, like those in California and New York City, focuses on sea level rise but also cites another harm: ocean acidification. The waters of Puget Sound are home to a $77 million shellfish industry that generates thousands of jobs; as ocean waters become more acidic, clams and oysters find it more difficult to form their shells and thrive. This, argues King County’s complaint, could have “direct and indirect economic impacts on King County.”

Jason Mark, SIERRA, 11 May 2018. Full article.

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