Feb 23, 2021
Annapolis sues 26 oil and gas firms alleging they concealed knowledge of climate change
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City officials in Annapolis, Md., filed a lawsuit Monday accusing 26 companies including Exxon, Shell, and the American Petroleum Institute of failing to warn state officials about the dangers posed by man-made climate change.
The lawsuit, filed in Anne Arundel County Circuit Court, alleges that the named companies knew "for decades that climate change impacts could be catastrophic, and that only a narrow window existed to take action before the consequences would be irreversible," yet failed to warn relevant state officials.
The city's legal filing goes on to allege that as a direct result of the companies failing to warn about the effects of widespread fossil fuel usage, Annapolis "suffered and will continue to suffer severe injuries, including, but not limited to: inundation and loss of City property; inundation of historic properties, private property, and businesses, with associated loss of tax revenue; injury or destruction of City-owned or -operated infrastructure critical for operations and utility services," among other damages.
“This lawsuit is all about accountability and determining who should pay the high costs of dealing with climate change,” the city's mayor, Gavin Buckley (D), said in a statement. “Annapolis residents and businesses pay the price for the damage inflicted on our infrastructure due to increased flooding caused by sea level rise. Fossil fuel companies knew the danger, concealed their knowledge, and reaped the profits. It is time we held them accountable."
Annapolis's lawsuit follows similar efforts by cities including Baltimore, whose attorneys are currently fighting at the Supreme Court over whether fossil fuel companies can be held accountable for the financial costs of addressing storm damage and other issues linked by scientists to a changing climate.
"Legal proceedings like this waste millions of dollars of taxpayer money and do nothing to advance meaningful actions that reduce the risks of climate change. ExxonMobil will continue to invest in efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions while meeting society’s growing demand for energy," said a company spokesperson.
"We believe the claims are baseless and without merit. We look forward to defending the company in court," they added.
A representative for Shell contended to The Hill in an emailed statement that the company's "position on climate change has been a matter of public record for decades."
"Addressing a challenge as big as climate change requires a truly collaborative, society-wide approach. We do not believe the courtroom is the right venue to address climate change, but that smart policy from government, supported by inclusive action from all business sectors, including ours, and from civil society, is the appropriate way to reach solutions and drive progress," the Shell spokesperson added.
The Hill has reached out to the American Petroleum Institute and the Annapolis mayor's office for further comment.
Maryland as a whole has faced a number of issues related to climate change in recent years.
This has included worsening levels of flooding in historic Ellicott City that damaged business on the city's Main Street in 2018. Annapolis itself also faces its own flooding issues that have only grown worse in recent years.
News Source: thehill.com
Group sues N Carolina over end to Confederate license plate
RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — The North Carolina chapter of the Sons of Confederate Veterans has filed a lawsuit against the state over its decision to stop issuing license plates bearing the Confederate battle flag.
Kevin Stone, state commander for the group, said the state Division of Motor Vehicles never discussed the move with him or the group’s attorneys, despite numerous inquiries about why no new Sons of Confederate Veterans plates had been sent out for months, WRAL reported Monday.
Stone alleges that North Carolina “acted in bad faith” and has always been hostile to group members. He also said the Confederate flag is the organization’s symbol, and the group shouldn’t have to abandon it on its license plates.
Confederate symbols have come under increased scrutiny in recent years as critics argue they symbolize racism, slavery and division.
“Our legally registered emblem represents our membership and our shared family history. Hating our group’s logo is equivalent to hating our group’s members,” Stone said in a statement. “Symbols can often have more than one meaning. To assume the Confederate Battle Flag is uniquely offensive is to validate only one viewpoint and thereby discriminate against others.”
A DMV spokesman said it doesn’t comment on pending litigation.
The Sons of Confederate Veterans sued more than two decades ago to get plates made along the lines of other groups with specialty plates.
The agency said the removal of the license plate, issued to members of the SCV, took effect Jan. 1. The StarNews of Wilmington reported the move came six months after NCDMV acknowledged it had received complaints about the Confederate battle flag appearing on a specialty license plate.
“The Division of Motor Vehicles has determined that license plates bearing the Confederate battle flag have the potential to offend those who view them,” the agency said in a statement. “We have therefore concluded that display of the Confederate battle flag is inappropriate for display on specialty license plates, which remain property of the state.”
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