The all-powerful petroleum industry is actually threatened by the increasing lawsuits against them around the world. And they are jumping in to intervene in the Youth lawsuit against the US federal government.
Today, nearly every oil and gas company in the world asked for permission to oppose this lawsuit, putting them on the same side as the Obama Administration – and against the teenagers who filed as plaintiffs.
Teenagers have filed suits in every state, and now the federal government, arguing the continued use of fossil fuels violates their constitutional rights to life and liberty, because the government knows this causes climate change. They want the court to order President Obama to immediately implement a national plan that lowers atmospheric concentrations of carbon dioxide to 350 ppm by 2100.
The fossil industry will intervene through its trade associations – the American Fuel and Petrochemical Manufacturers, the American Petroleum Institute and National Association of Manufacturers.
This is a direct threat to their businesses, say the trade associations, and that a "significant reduction in [greenhouse gas] emissions would cause a significant negative effect on [their] members by constraining the sale of the product they have specialized in developing and selling."
"The largest, best funded fossil fuel heavyweights want the court to protect their wallets over ensuring a habitable country for these young plaintiffs and future generations," says Philip Gregory of Cotchett, Pitre & McCarthy, counsel to the Plaintiffs. "As the recent disclosures by Exxon reveal, our government and the fossil fuel industry have known for decades that fossil fuel extraction, production, and consumption would destroy our climate in the upcoming decades. That is why this case is significant: a court needs to order our government to protect our kids and future generations."
"Big Oil is starting to lose control of our political system," says Alex Loznak, a youth plaintiff in an Oregon case. "Last week, President Obama rejected the Keystone XL Pipeline, and New York State began to investigate Exxon’s cover-up of climate science. The intervention of fossil fuel companies in our lawsuit against the Federal Government makes it clear that the industry is scared. As Mahatma Gandhi once said, "first they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win." The fight has begun, and we will win."
"The science is clear," says Dr. James Hansen. "To preserve a climate system conducive to humanity and nature alike, the burning of fossil fuel must be phased out without further delay, and completed within decades. It is the fundamental duty of our government to ensure that this is done in time to avert catastrophic sea level and other intolerable climate damage. I am not surprised that fossil fuel corporations seek to derail this case, but the fundamental rights of my granddaughter and future generations to life, liberty, and pursuit of happiness must prevail."
Read our article, Momentum Builds for Court Action on Climate Change.