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Is Los Angeles Joining NYC in the Fight Against Big Oil?

A new motion may be the first step.

La Tuna fire seen from Burbank, California. Image @JasonMooreENT

Earlier this week, New York City announced a major attack on the fossil fuel industry. This two pronged attack, introduced by Mayor Bill de Blasio on Wednesday, included divestment of about $5 billion dollars in fossil fuel related holdings from the city’s pension funds. The second prong of the attack is a major lawsuit against five of the largest oil companies: BP, Chevron, Conoco Phillips, Exxon Mobil, and Royal Dutch Shell. The lawsuit is seeking to collect billions in damages to pay for city efforts to manage the current and future impacts of climate change.

The lawsuit, and similar efforts from several California cities and counties, will focus on the fact that the fossil fuel industry was aware of the dangers of climate change for years, yet actively misled and deceived the public. This is similar to the lawsuits against big tobacco for deceiving the public regarding the dangers of smoking and cancer.

Today Los Angeles Councilmembers Paul Koretz and Mike Bonin introduced a motion to “request that the City Attorney report to the Council in executive session with options for filing claims against the corporations that have profited from the production and sale of fossil fuels.” The motion also requests an amicus brief on the claims filed by New York City against the oil companies, as well as claims that local municipalities have filed against oil companies.

It is yet to be seen if Los Angeles will join the legal action against the fossil fuel industry. However if the motion introduced today is any indication, the City of Angels certainly appears to be preparing for a fight.