CLF Sues Exxon for Shoreline Impacts of Climate Negligence
The New England-based Conservation Law Foundation has filed a lawsuit against ExxonMobil for failing to protect shoreline communities along the Mystic River from the effects of climate change on its plant operations.
The Foundation began researching its case after InsideClimate News and the Los Angeles Times revealed that Exxon understood the risks of climate change as early as 1977, but chose to lavish funds on climate denial rather than contributing to climate solutions. “We found that despite knowing the harm climate change could cause, ExxonMobil left its oil storage facility in Everett, MA on the Mystic vulnerable to flooding from storms and rising seas,” writes attorney and CLF Massachusetts Director Veronica Eady. “Now it’s just a matter of time before a giant storm floods our streets with a toxic soup from Exxon’s dilapidated facilities.”
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The landmark case, the first major lawsuit against the company since the #ExxonKnew story broke, “is a David vs. Goliath scenario,” notes Eady, a veteran environmental justice campaigner. The residents at risk “are already at a disadvantage: lower-income, immigrant, and communities of colour like those along the Mystic have traditionally been denied the same access to resources as their wealthier counterparts, and disproportionately over-burdened with pollution, creating an imbalance of power that Exxon has exploited.”
But “our justice system cannot—and must not—be sold off to the highest bidder,” she stresses. “This case presents a tremendous opportunity for change, and the potential to set a precedent for the dynamic role of local advocacy in taking on transnational corporations. It also shows us that no company, organization, or government agency is too big to be held responsible for its actions, and no one town or resident is too small or too weak to demand environmental justice.”