Boulder County, San Miguel County, and the City of Boulder sue Suncor and ExxonMobil for damages related to climate change.
Costs of climate change impacts estimated to top one hundred million dollars by 2050
Just like coastal communities, high-altitude mountains and plains communities are on the front lines of climate change. They are already experiencing trends in heat rise, drought, and more frequent wildfires. Colorado is one of the fastest warming states in the country.
Over the next few decades, climate change is going to create profound threats to these communities’ local economies, health, and safety. They need to take protective measures now. But those measures to adapt to and mitigate the impacts of climate change are expensive and over the next three decades, the costs to local taxpayers will top one hundred million dollars.
Colorado communities have been leaders in trying to reduce their own contributions to climate change, funding efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and improve air quality. They’ve also made substantial investments to mitigate the harms of climate change – increasing wildfire defensive spaces around homes, helping residents deal with dead trees caused by pine beetle outbreaks, and spending hundreds of thousands of dollars to understand impacts to water supply, as just a few examples.
For years, these western communities have done everything in their power to address climate change and reduce their carbon footprints. But the costs to local taxpayers are mounting. It’s time for the oil companies profiting from the problem in Colorado to be part of the solution.
Companies like Suncor and ExxonMobil (“Exxon”) deceived the public and policymakers for decades about the truth so they could keep making billions of dollars. For the past year, local governments and legal advocates have gone to court to ask these companies to use their vast profits to pay their fair share of what it will cost a community to deal with the problem the companies created.
Suncor and Exxon are two of the world’s largest contributors to climate change and have worked closely together in Colorado to market and sell fossil fuels. Exxon is the largest investor-owned fossil fuel producer in history. Suncor’s U.S. operations are based in Denver and the company supplies about 35 percent of the state’s gasoline and diesel fuel demand. Their carbon footprint is already enormous; worse, both companies are investing heavily in the dirtiest forms of petroleum, expanding fossil fuel production from tar sands and other projects.
Suncor and Exxon now admit that climate change is real and that it’s caused by their products, but they’ve known about the risk for at least fifty years – long before they informed the public. Even now, their business plan is to produce even more products that will worsen the problem.
In Colorado communities suffering from the economic, health and safety consequences of climate change, it is unjust for these costs to fall entirely on taxpayers. It’s only fair that the companies that profited from their own reckless behavior to compensate communities for the harm they caused.