Municipalities Sue Over Climate Change

Boulder, San Miguel counties bring lawsuit against Suncor, ExxonMobil

The City and County of Boulder along with San Miguel County filed suit against Suncor Energy U.S.A. and ExxonMobil on April 17, arguing that defendants had knowledge of their contribution to climate change effects.

The suit alleges public and private nuisance, trespass, unjust enrichment and violations of the Colorado Consumer Protection Act. The lawsuit follows the lead of a handful of cities and counties in California and New York that have brought similar climate change nuisance laws. Boulder and San Miguel are the first two landlocked counties not affected by sea level rise to allege climate change effects. Suncor and Exxon did not respond to requests for comment.

Plaintiffs are represented by environmental attorney Kevin Hannon, EarthRights International counsel Marco Simons and the Niskanen Center, and requested a jury trial. Simons emphasized that the plaintiffs are not attempting to enjoin oil and gas operations or implement emissions controls and that the plaintiffs aren’t arguing that Suncor and Exxon are solely responsible.

“We’re arguing how much of the climate change crisis should be charged to them — it’s not 100 percent, but it’s also not going to be zero,” Simons said.

To read this story and other complete articles featured in the April 30, 2017 print edition of Law Week Colorado, copies are available for purchase online.