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Opinion >  Letters

Big Oil knew

Arguing against climate lawsuits, former Rep. George Nethercutt (“Climate lawsuits detract from the real solutions,” Feb. 19) failed to mention a very important climate lawsuit, Massachusetts v EPA, which established that greenhouse gases are air pollutants under the Clean Air Act.

Big Oil, like Big Tobacco and Big Pharma, has long known the harm its products would cause, yet purposely hid those facts and aggressively marketed the harmful products for decades. Governments spent great sums of public funds providing care for people harmed by cancer-causing cigarette smoke and highly-addictive opioids. Then states successfully sued tobacco and opioid producers.

Big Oil is liable for damages related to climate change because Big Oil knew and lied about the dangers of their products. Today, Big Oil is fighting in Olympia against a Low Carbon Fuel Standard that would require a mere 20% reduction in the carbon intensity of fuels.

Governments now bear massive costs of retrofitting fundamental infrastructure to withstand rising sea levels, floods, wildfires, extreme weather and other disasters caused by climate change. Our country’s economy depends heavily on our port cities, like Baltimore, to import and export goods, yet infrastructure in port cities around the country is threatened by climate change.

When for-profit industries purposely hide their knowledge of harm caused by their product, continue to market those products to the public, and aggressively lobby with profit-fueled war chests to protect markets for these dangerous goods, then states and cities have the right and the duty to argue before the courts for fair compensation for damages.

Rebecca MacMullan



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