LOCAL NEWS

King County sues big oil to fund climate change work

May 14, 2018, 6:06 AM | Updated: 12:24 pm

As Seattle’s head tax proposal claimed headline after headline last week, King County was quietly starting a battle with the world’s largest energy companies over their contributions to climate change.

RELATED: How to make a carbon tax work in Washington

King County filed a lawsuit on Wednesday, May 9, 2018 against the five largest oil companies arguing they are responsible for knowingly contributing to “climate disruptions and putting the residents of King County at greater risk of floods, landslides, ocean acidification, sea level rise, and other impacts.”

King County’s lawsuit names: BP; Chevron; Exxon Mobil; Royal Dutch; and ConocoPhillips. The action comes in tandem with governments in California, New York, and Colorado that have filed similar lawsuits.

“The science is indisputable: climate change is impacting our region today, and it will only cause greater havoc and hardships in the future,” King County Executive Dow Constantine said. “The companies that profited the most from fossil fuels should help bear the costs of managing these disasters. Big oil spent many decades disregarding and dismissing what is our most pressing generational challenge. We must hold these companies accountable as we marshal our resources to protect and preserve what makes this region great.”

The county aims to get the five oil companies to fund the costs of upgrading the region’s infrastructure. It is also seeking to fund salmon recovery, and other costs related to the changing climate. An abatement fund could be in the hundreds of millions of dollars, according to officials. The county notes that the law firm Hagens Berman Sobol Shapiro is helping with the lawsuit. This is the same company that successfully sued the tobacco industry in the 1990s.

Climate Change and the Northwest

The lawsuit is likely to have some debate. For example, King County leadership argues that areas located along the mean high tide line are now experiencing regular flooding, with more flooding expected in coming years. But local climatologist and University of Washington professor Cliff Mass — who promotes climate change will dramatically affect the Northwest by 2100 — may not agree with this assertion.

Mass has said that current sea level rise is not from climate change — so far. It will be, however. But he argues that the current sea level rise has been part of an ongoing trend that began long before humans influenced the climate with increasing carbon emissions. The climatologist has also pointed out the many ways human activity has altered the Northwest climate aside from oil-based causes. For example, the eastern part of the state has experienced cooler summers by about 2-5 degrees. This is due to irrigation farming. Mismanagement of forests has also affected forest fires and dust storms.

Mass’ comments on the climate have drawn the ire of both climate change alarmists and deniers. But he does assert that much of the current climate changes are caused by human activity and that this will dramatically change the Northwest environment by 2100. For example, residents can expect less snow at lower elevations with a 5-10 percent increase in regional precipitation. Yep, that’s right, more rain. He also predicts that warming will cease being slow and “rev up” around 2050. By 2090, the number of days spent above 90 degrees each year will go up.

To address this, Mass has promoted that the Northwest become a “resilient society” to climate change. Perhaps with some money from its lawsuit, King County can fund becoming more resilient.

Local News

A home in Bellevue slid off its foundations and collapsed. (Photo courtesy of BellevuePD/Twitter)...
MyNorthwest Staff

Bellevue home slid off foundation and collapsed

A home in Bellevue slid off its foundation early Monday and has collapsed. Officer rescued two people inside the home.
8 hours ago
Pierce County, hit-and-run...
KIRO 7 News Staff

Pierce County hit-and-run driver strikes two 12-year-old girls, killing one

A devastated Pierce County father is pleading with a hit-and-run driver to come forward after his 12-year-old daughter was killed and her friend injured.
8 hours ago
shooting...
KIRO 7 News Staff

Man shot, killed in Seattle’s Central District

An investigation is underway after a 36-year-old man was shot and killed Sunday night in Seattle’s Central District.
1 day ago
Gas-powered yard tools...
KIRO Newsradio Newsdesk

State lawmaker proposes bill to offer people money in exchange for gas-powered yard tools

A state lawmaker from Seattle is pushing to offer financial incentives to state residents if they give up their gas-powered yard tools.
1 day ago
Potholes...
MyNorthwest Staff

Nearly 600 potholes reported to SDOT last week in wake of frigid weather

Frigid temperatures have had the Seattle Department of Transportation working to fill hundreds of potholes across the city in January. 
1 day ago
asian giant hornets, british columbia...
Nicole Jennings

State makes discovery about Asian giant hornets eradicated in 2021

The Washington State Department of Agriculture made a promising discovery about the origin of the Asian giant hornets eradicated in 2021.
2 days ago

Sponsored Articles

...

Compassion International Is Determined to ‘Fill’ a Unique Type of Football ‘Stadium’

Compassion International SPONSORED — During this fall’s football season—and as the pandemic continues to impact the entire globe—one organization has been urging caring individuals to help it “fill” a unique type of “stadium” in order to make a lasting difference in the lives of many. Compassion International’s distinctive Fill the Stadium (FtS, fillthestadium.com) initiative provides […]
...

What are the Strongest, Greenest, Best Windows?

Lake Washington Windows & Doors SPONSORED — Fiberglass windows are an excellent choice for window replacement due to their fundamental strength and durability. There is no other type of window that lasts as long as fiberglass; so why go with anything else? Fiberglass windows are 8x stronger than vinyl, lower maintenance than wood, more thermally […]
...

COVID Vaccine is a Game-Changer for Keeping our Kids Healthy

Snohomish Health District SPONSORED — Cheers to the parents and guardians who keep their kids safe and healthy. The dad who cooks a meal with something green in it, even though he’s tired and drive-thru burgers were tempting. The mom who calms down the little one who loudly and resolutely does NOT want to brush […]
...
Experience Anacortes

Coastal Christmas Celebration Week in Anacortes

With minimal travel time required and every activity under the sun, Anacortes is the perfect vacation spot for all ages.
...

Delayed-Onset PTSD: Signs and Symptoms

Lakeside-Milam Recovery Centers SPONSORED — You’re probably familiar with post-traumatic stress disorder. Often abbreviated as PTSD, this condition is diagnosed when a person experiences a set of symptoms for at least a month after a traumatic event. However, for some people, these issues take longer to develop. This results in a diagnosis of delayed-onset PTSD […]
...

Medicare open enrollment ends Dec. 7. Free unbiased help is here!

Washington State Office of the Insurance Commissioner SPONSORED — Medicare’s Open Enrollment Period, also called the Annual Election Period, is Oct. 15 to Dec. 7. During this time, people enrolled in Medicare can: Switch from Original Medicare to a Medicare Advantage plan and vice versa. Join, drop or switch a Part D prescription drug plan, […]
King County sues big oil to fund climate change work