Rhode Island Climate Lawsuit Against Fossil Fuel Giants Helps State Residents Prepare for Changing Climate

Statement by Ken Kimmell, Union of Concerned Scientists

Published Jul 3, 2018

WASHINGTON (July 2, 2018)—Rhode Island is suing fossil fuel companies for climate change impacts, becoming the first state to do so. The lawsuit, filed in state court today, seeks to hold accountable 21 of the largest oil and gas companies for knowingly contributing to sea level rise, changes in the hydrologic cycle, heat waves and other impacts that damage infrastructure and coastal communities. Similar cases have been filed in New York City and cities and counties in California, Colorado and Washington. Rhode Island’s lawsuit can help its residents better adapt to and mitigate climate change impacts and ensure that taxpayers alone don’t foot the bill, according to the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS).

Below is a statement by Ken Kimmell, president of UCS.

"The science is clear–rising seas and other climate impacts will overwhelm critical energy and wastewater infrastructure and damage roads, bridges and homes. According to a recent UCS analysis, accelerating sea level rise will, by 2045, threaten nearly 900 Rhode Island homes that today are worth more than half a billion dollars and contribute more than $7 million in annual property taxes.

"Taking steps to decrease carbon emissions and holding fossil fuel companies accountable for their outsize responsibility for exacerbating climate change will ensure that Rhode Island residents and taxpayers are prepared to face worsening climate impacts and implement solutions for a safer, low-carbon future."