Imperial Beach. Photo: Wikimedia Commons

The City of Imperial Beach has joined a lawsuit that accuses major oil, gas and coal compaines of knowingly contributing to sea-level rise and coastal flooding.

Marin and San Mateo counties are also part of the coordinated effort.

Filed Monday in Marin County Superior Court, the suit alleges that “major corporate members of the fossil fuel industry, have known for nearly a half century that unrestricted production and use of their fossil fuel products create greenhouse gas pollution that warms the planet and changes our climate,” The Mercury News reported.

“The suit goes on to say that even though the fossil fuel companies knew there was a narrow window to take action before consequences would be irreversible, they engaged in a ‘coordinated, multi-front effort’ to ‘discredit the growing body of publicly available scientific evidence and persistently create doubt,’” the paper continued.

Defendants named in the case include Chevron, ExxonMobil, BP and Shell, according to the report.

“The suit seeks compensatory damages, punitive damages, disgorgement of profits and lawyers’ fees, but it doesn’t specify how much they might amount to,” The Mercury News reported.

Imperial Beach Mayor Serge Dedina told The San Diego Union-Tribune that the oil companies knew about sea-level rise.

“They knew the damage it would cause, and they should be held accountable,” he said.

Imperial Beach officials told the U-T that the city lacks the resources to adapt to the worst impacts of sea-level rise.

Marin County officials estimate that thousands of homes and businesses could be regularly inundated with sea water by the end of the century; San Mateo County officials cite the same fears, according to the media reports.

When asked if the suit is similar to legal action taken in the 1990s against the tobacco industry, Marin County Supervisor Kate Sears told The Mercury News, “You could certainly think of it that way, because a lot of what these fossil fuel companies did was modeled after what the tobacco companies did.”


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