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Bay Area cities sue major oil companies over climate change

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Bay Area cities sue major oil companies over climate change

 (Gina Ferazzi / Los Angeles Times)
(Gina Ferazzi / Los Angeles Times)

San Francisco and Oakland are suing to get five oil companies, including San Ramon-based Chevron, to pay for the cost of protecting the Bay Area from rising sea levels and other effects of global warming.

“These fossil fuel companies profited handsomely for decades while knowing they were putting the fate of our cities at risk,” San Francisco City Atty. Dennis Herrera said in a statement.

The lawsuits, which were filed Tuesday in state court in San Francisco and Alameda counties and announced Wednesday, don’t ask for a specific dollar amount. But the cities could try to put oil companies on the hook for billions.

Long-term improvements in San Francisco’s seawall are projected to cost $5 billion, according to one of the lawsuits.

“The law is clear that the defendants are responsible for the consequences of their reckless and disastrous actions,” Oakland City Atty. Barbara J. Parker said in a statement.

A spokesman for Chevron, Melissa Ritchie, said the lawsuits would not help address climate change.

"Reducing greenhouse gas emissions is a global issue that requires global engagement and action," she said in a statement. "Should this litigation proceed, it will only serve special interests at the expense of broader policy, regulatory, and economic priorities."

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