NYC sues oil companies over climate change

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NYC sues oil companies over climate change

Post by Anaxagoras » Thu Jan 11, 2018 4:20 am

The Latest: Oil companies dispute climate lawsuit claims

WTF? Scapegoatism.
Some of the oil companies being sued by New York City over claims they contributed to global warming are disputing the allegation.

Mayor Bill de Blasio says the city will be seeking billions in the lawsuit to recoup money spent by the city for resiliency efforts related to climate change.

The defendants in the city’s federal lawsuit are BP, Chevron, ConocoPhillips, ExxonMobil and Royal Dutch Shell.

ExxonMobil spokesman Scott Silvestri says the company has made good faith attempts to address climate change. He says lawsuits don’t accomplish that goal. Shell’s spokesman echoed that sentiment.

The other companies either did not comment or did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
The lawsuit follows the city’s announcement that it plans to divest its pension funds from fossil fuel companies.
Gee, NYC itself has also "contributed to global warming".

Never mind divestment, how about the city stops using all fossil fuels immediately. No police cars or other City vehicles that use fossil fuels. No use of any other energy generated by fossil fuels. I mean if you are serious, you shouldn't just stop owning stock in the company, you should stop buying the product they sell, right? "But it's necessary." Well, duh. Exactly.
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Re: NYC sues oil companies over climate change

Post by Mentat » Thu Jan 11, 2018 4:23 am

Would help traffic, to be honest.
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Re: NYC sues oil companies over climate change

Post by Doctor X » Thu Jan 11, 2018 4:52 am

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Re: NYC sues oil companies over climate change

Post by gnome » Thu Jan 11, 2018 4:29 pm

I think I understand the principle at hand, but it rests on some shaky conditionals.

IF it can be legally established that fossil fuel usage is a direct contributor to climate change, instead of just a scientific conclusion that informs policy, and

IF it can be demonstrated that NYC is incurring actual costs from the effects,

then it seems like an externality case.

The fossil fuel industry would be sending the bill for a cost of their business to the taxpayers. While ultimately the money comes from consumers anyway, being able to take it off their books removes market incentives to process more efficiently or invest in cleaner energy sources. It artificially deflates the comparative costs of fossil fuel against options that are more renewable/sustainable.

So I don't think the line of reasoning is insane, but I'm not sure that the premises it rests on will fly at this point. The politics of it are an obstacle--can we get more mileage from collaborative and more voluntary or regulation driven measures?

Not an easy issue, this. We're going to see more of it.
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Re: NYC sues oil companies over climate change

Post by gnome » Thu Jan 11, 2018 4:37 pm

Additional thought--it seems to effectively come down to: who is to be the arbiters of where climate change adaptation costs belong and whether they exist? Courts, or voters?
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Re: NYC sues oil companies over climate change

Post by Anaxagoras » Fri Jan 12, 2018 4:22 am

gnome wrote:I think I understand the principle at hand, but it rests on some shaky conditionals.

IF it can be legally established that fossil fuel usage is a direct contributor to climate change, instead of just a scientific conclusion that informs policy, and

IF it can be demonstrated that NYC is incurring actual costs from the effects,

then it seems like an externality case.

The fossil fuel industry would be sending the bill for a cost of their business to the taxpayers. While ultimately the money comes from consumers anyway, being able to take it off their books removes market incentives to process more efficiently or invest in cleaner energy sources. It artificially deflates the comparative costs of fossil fuel against options that are more renewable/sustainable.

So I don't think the line of reasoning is insane, but I'm not sure that the premises it rests on will fly at this point. The politics of it are an obstacle--can we get more mileage from collaborative and more voluntary or regulation driven measures?

Not an easy issue, this. We're going to see more of it.
I think your reasoning is faulty. Your first two "IFs" are fine. It's what comes after where the reasoning breaks down.
"The fossil fuel industry would be sending the bill for a cost of their business to the taxpayers." First of all, they can't send a "bill for the cost to taxpayers". They can raise prices in theory, but gasoline is a fungible commodity and market competition prevents them from doing that without colluding to set prices. Second, they aren't suing the whole "fossil fuel industry" but 5 specific companies. Why not coal mining companies? Why are producers rather than consumers of fossil fuels responsible? It's really everyone's collective responsibility, at least everyone who consumes the energy produced by fossil fuels, which is essentially everybody. They wouldn't be producing these fuels if there wasn't a demand for it.

The best, fairest economic answer I've seen is a carbon tax. We've built a whole society and modern way of life that is powered mainly by fossil fuels. It's everybody, they just play a necessary role in it. Anyone who willingly consumes fossil fuels has no moral standing to blame the person who supplies those fuels for playing the necessary role which their own actions show is necessary. Call it a "necessary evil" if you will, but if an "evil" is necessary, then don't blame the person who performs that "evil" task. Don't hate the undertaker for burying the dead because the dead have to be buried. There were certain social caste systems that looked at some occupations as impure, even though they are necessary functions to perform.

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Re: NYC sues oil companies over climate change

Post by Grammatron » Fri Jan 12, 2018 5:16 am

The next problem you run into is what do you do with collected carbon tax money?

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Re: NYC sues oil companies over climate change

Post by Doctor X » Fri Jan 12, 2018 5:28 am

Since when have New York politicians had a difficulty spending money?

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Re: NYC sues oil companies over climate change

Post by WildCat » Fri Jan 12, 2018 5:52 am

Do we get to consider the greatly increased standard of living oil has created since the beginning of the 20th century?

Horses were far worse, crap everywhere and they were usually abandoned where they dropped dead. At least abandoned cars don't stink to high heaven after a few days in the sun.
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Re: NYC sues oil companies over climate change

Post by Anaxagoras » Fri Jan 12, 2018 5:54 am

Grammatron wrote:The next problem you run into is what do you do with collected carbon tax money?
One popular idea is that you just give it right back to the people, the taxpayers (every legal full-time resident gets a full share at the end of the year or the end of the quarter maybe, maybe semi-annually). People pay according to how much carbon they consume, but everybody gets an equal share of the proceeds. If you are the average consumer, you break even, if you use more carbon than the average consumer, you don't get as much back as you pay and if you use less than the average, you come out ahead.

Of course, you could use it in other ways instead. Maybe you lower the corporate tax rate or use it to balance the budget (sell fewer bonds). Maybe you repair the infrastructure that needs maintenance or improvement. Maybe a monorail.
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Re: NYC sues oil companies over climate change

Post by Grammatron » Fri Jan 12, 2018 5:57 am

I'd be down with your ideas, but I think we need to hold government accountable better before we embark on such grand social engineering projects.

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Re: NYC sues oil companies over climate change

Post by Anaxagoras » Fri Jan 12, 2018 6:12 am

Grammatron wrote:I'd be down with your ideas, but I think we need to hold government accountable better before we embark on such grand social engineering projects.
And how will we know when we've achieved that? Is there some sort of measurable metric of "government accountability"?
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Re: NYC sues oil companies over climate change

Post by Grammatron » Fri Jan 12, 2018 6:13 am

Anaxagoras wrote:
Grammatron wrote:I'd be down with your ideas, but I think we need to hold government accountable better before we embark on such grand social engineering projects.
And how will we know when we've achieved that? Is there some sort of measurable metric of "government accountability"?
Approval rating is closest I can think of.

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Re: NYC sues oil companies over climate change

Post by Anaxagoras » Fri Jan 12, 2018 6:25 am

Any idea how we can work toward that goal? Elect better people? What if it never happens? So we can't adopt this good policy until most people are satisfied with our leaders, which will probably never happen. At least half the country is going to be unhappy with the current leaders at any given time.
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Re: NYC sues oil companies over climate change

Post by Grammatron » Fri Jan 12, 2018 6:40 am

Anaxagoras wrote:Any idea how we can work toward that goal? Elect better people? What if it never happens? So we can't adopt this good policy until most people are satisfied with our leaders, which will probably never happen. At least half the country is going to be unhappy with the current leaders at any given time.
I think it's a simple as educating people on what the government does, which organs handled what responsibility and who the people in charge are who should then be held accountable. I think certain level of ignorance about civic functions creates frustration, resentment, and ultimately distrust.

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Re: NYC sues oil companies over climate change

Post by Doctor X » Fri Jan 12, 2018 7:23 am

Can you eat a dead car, Wildcat?

I win.

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Re: NYC sues oil companies over climate change

Post by gnome » Fri Jan 12, 2018 11:18 am

Anaxagoras wrote: I think your reasoning is faulty. Your first two "IFs" are fine. It's what comes after where the reasoning breaks down.
"The fossil fuel industry would be sending the bill for a cost of their business to the taxpayers." First of all, they can't send a "bill for the cost to taxpayers". They can raise prices in theory, but gasoline is a fungible commodity and market competition prevents them from doing that without colluding to set prices. Second, they aren't suing the whole "fossil fuel industry" but 5 specific companies. Why not coal mining companies? Why are producers rather than consumers of fossil fuels responsible? It's really everyone's collective responsibility, at least everyone who consumes the energy produced by fossil fuels, which is essentially everybody. They wouldn't be producing these fuels if there wasn't a demand for it.
I think that's a misunderstanding. I meant that indirectly, that if the government absorbs the cost of adapting to climate change without charging the industries that create it, that the industry is passing the buck and artificially deflating their costs.

I agree that lawsuits may not be the best way to get the money flowing correctly.

As for what to do with the money, I thought it was more or less clear that the money would fund those very costs that they claim the industry is causing them to incur.
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Re: NYC sues oil companies over climate change

Post by Abdul Alhazred » Fri Jan 12, 2018 12:00 pm

Anaxagoras wrote:
Grammatron wrote:The next problem you run into is what do you do with collected carbon tax money?
One popular idea is that you just give it right back to the people ...
On what planet will this happen? :lmao:

Hint: Not this one.

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Re: NYC sues oil companies over climate change

Post by RCC: Act II » Fri Jan 12, 2018 2:03 pm

gnome wrote:
I agree that lawsuits may not be the best way to get the money flowing correctly.
It could be, but the civil system for decades evolved in such a way to make this extremely cumbersome.

It is an interesting idea. If the suit gets past a motion to dismiss, the plaintiffs get discovery and if it gets to a jury have the opportunity to prove in court these companies in part caused climate change.

Those are big "ifs" though.

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Re: NYC sues oil companies over climate change

Post by ed » Fri Jan 12, 2018 2:10 pm

RCC: Act II wrote:
gnome wrote:
I agree that lawsuits may not be the best way to get the money flowing correctly.
It could be, but the civil system for decades evolved in such a way to make this extremely cumbersome.

It is an interesting idea. If the suit gets past a motion to dismiss, the plaintiffs get discovery and if it gets to a jury have the opportunity to prove get a jury to agree in court these companies in part caused climate change.

Those are big "ifs" though.
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