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Conservation Science for a Healthy Planet

Students, Cities and States Take the Climate Fight to Court

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In California, two counties and a city recently sued 37 fossil fuel companies, seeking funds to cover the costs of dealing with a warming world. In Oregon, a federal lawsuit brought on behalf of young people is moving toward a February trial date, though the so-called children’s suit could be tossed out before that. And more than a dozen state attorneys general have sued to block Trump administration moves to roll back environmental regulations.

….In the new suits, Marin and San Mateo Counties and the City of Imperial Beach are accusing the oil companies of knowing that their industry would cause catastrophic climate change and covering up the evidence.

Serge Dedina, the mayor of Imperial Beach, said his community was already dealing with coastal flooding and increasingly heavy rains, and sees more to come as the sea level rises. “How do we make sure those responsible pay the costs so that residents of communities like mine don’t have to pay the costs?” he asked.

The supervisor for District 3 of Marin County, Kathrin Sears, said, “It’s time to hold these oil, gas and coal companies accountable for the damage they knew their products would cause.

….Perhaps the most effective litigators in the fight against climate change could turn out to be state attorneys general. During the Obama administration, conservative attorneys general like Oklahoma’s Scott Pruitt, who had a particularly close relationship with fossil fuel interests, fought environmental initiatives and often had private-sector players as fellow plaintiffs.

Now Mr. Pruitt heads the Environmental Protection Agency, and progressive attorneys general, especially New York’s Eric T. Schneidermanare suing just as enthusiastically, along with environmental groups, to counter the administration’s efforts to roll back climate change regulations.

Their pushback could already be having an effect. Last week, the Environmental Protection Agency reversed itself on a one-year delay it had announced on enforcing a rule regarding ozone — one day after attorneys general filed a lawsuit challenging the delay

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