BP, others file for dismissal in climate change case

By Robert Davis | Mar 28, 2018

SAN FRANCISCO — BP, along with four other oil companies, on March 20 filed a motion to dismiss a case in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District Court of California, claiming that the people of the state of California, the plaintiff, has failed to state a claim of relief required under federal law. 

The oil companies argued that the "Plaintiffs’ claims are barred by the foreign affairs doctrine, the Commerce Clause, the Due Process Clause, and the First Amendment; because Plaintiffs have failed to sufficiently allege causation" of climate change. 

They further argued that the plaintiff's claims "necessarily arise under federal common law, because 'the scope of the worldwide predicament [of climate change] demands the most comprehensive view available.'" The motion also cautioned that "it does not say the ultimate answer will favor judicial relief."

Both San Francisco and Oakland are suing the five companies -- BP, Chevron, Royal Dutch Shell, ConocoPhillips and Exxon Mobile -- to pay for the cost of protecting the Bay Area from rising sea levels and other effects of climate change.

“These fossil fuel companies profited handsomely for decades while knowing they were putting the fate of our cities at risk,” San Francisco City Attorney Dennis Herrera said in a statement, according to The Hill

In the motion, the companies argue that the "extraction or sale of fossil fuels created the alleged nuisance, but rather that the combustion of fossil fuels by third-party users—such as Plaintiffs themselves—causes global warming and rising seas."

This argument and other claims, the motion states, are still "displaced by the many federal statutes that expressly regulate (and, in fact, encourage) such conduct."

The court has also recognized "there is no manageable standard for balancing the utility of using fossil fuels against the risks posed by emissions," on two separate occasions, the motion argues. 

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