Local Colorado Governments Face Pushback After Suing Oil Producers

REUTERS/Rick Wilking

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Tim Pearce Energy Reporter

Three local governments in Colorado are taking heat for suing oil and gas companies to hold them legally responsible for damage from severe weather brought on by climate change, The Washington Free Beacon reported.

After the city and county of Boulder and San Miguel County joined together in the lawsuit, The Denver Post, a large state newspaper, slammed the attempt to “bypass the political process” on energy policy and win a large settlement with “dubious legal theories.”

Current and former Republican state attorneys general echoed the newspaper, according to The Washington Free Beacon.

Former Colorado Attorney General Gale Norton blasted a comparison the lawsuit makes between oil and gas companies and the tobacco industry. Norton joined with other states in a lawsuit against tobacco companies when he was in state office.

“The connection between cigarette manufacturers and smokers was straightforward. Even at the height of tobacco use, only a few major companies produced tobacco products,” Norton wrote in an editorial in The Denver Post.

“The world reached its current levels of atmospheric greenhouse gases because of countless large and small decisions by governments, companies in different industries, and consumers,” Norton wrote. “Yet Boulder is suing only ExxonMobil and Suncor, and asking them to pay triple the amount of any climate change damage Boulder suffered.”

Current Colorado Attorney General Cynthia Coffman joined other Republican state attorneys general in a filing an amicus brief against an earlier lawsuit against oil and gas companies filed by local governments in California.

Boulder County spokeswoman Barb Halpin told The Washington Free Beacon that the companies are “substantially responsible for the climate impacts we now face” and slammed Coffman’s decision to “side with big oil and use her office to hamper efforts by local governments in Colorado to protect our residents from the impacts of oil and gas development.”

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