By Karen Savage
Marin County might not seem the most obvious place to launch a climate liability suit, but this coastal community in Northern California has already begun to battle dangerous levels of sea level rise, increased flooding and other impacts of climate change. A single storm caused more than a million dollars in damage last year.
More than 12,000 homes, businesses and other institutions with an assessed property value of nearly $16 billion will be at risk from tides and surge flooding by the end of the century, according to a vulnerability assessment the county completed in the spring of 2017.
“It made crystal clear that the cost of trying to protect the assets of risk from rising seas and more severe storms, and the human anguish over those that will be lost will be shocking and crippling for our residents,” Marin County Supervisor Dr. Kate Sears said.
Sears spoke during an online panel discussion on climate liability Thursday, an event sponsored by the Stanford Environmental & Natural Resources Law and Policy Program and the Center for Climate Integrity.
It didn’t take long to convince Sears that Marin County should file a climate liability suit. Sears is a former civil prosecutor for the California attorney general’s office who led a team of lawyers that secured a $3.8 billion settlement with predatory lenders.,
In 2017, Marin County joined what is now more than two dozen communities in suing fossil fuel companies to hold them accountable for the costs of climate change. The county’s suit, against Exxon, Chevon, Shell, BP, ConocoPhillips and more than a dozen other fossil fuel companies, includes claims for public nuisance, strict liability for failure to warn, strict liability for design defect, private nuisance, negligence, negligent failure to warn, and trespass. It is seeking compensation for current as well as future damages.[Read more…]