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Judge dismisses climate-change lawsuit against 5 oil giants

Published: June 25, 2018 10:38 p.m. ET

Ruling says problem must be fixed through ‘political branches,’ not court

Bloomberg News
The suit targeted Chevron and four other oil companies.
A federal judge on Monday dismissed lawsuits by the cities of San Francisco and Oakland alleging that five of the world’s largest oil companies should pay to protect the cities’ residents from the impacts of climate change.

U.S. District Judge William Alsup granted a motion by the companies — BP PLC BP, -3.36% , Royal Dutch Shell PLC RDS.A, -2.97% , Exxon Mobil Corp. XOM, -2.02% , ConocoPhillips COP, -2.42% and Chevron Corp. CVX, -1.99% — to dismiss the suits, ruling that while global warming was a real threat, it must be fixed “by our political branches.”

“The benefits of fossil fuels are worldwide,” he wrote. “The problem deserves a solution on a more vast scale than can be supplied by a district judge or jury in a public nuisance case.”

The ruling is a blow to an emerging legal campaign by cities and municipalities, who are trying to argue that oil and gas companies created a public nuisance by producing fossil fuels they knew would result in harmful emissions. New York City and several other local governments in California, Washington and Colorado have also sued on similar grounds.

An expanded version of this report appears on