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  • Ella Taylor

California Takes On Big Oil

As you all well know, one of our biggest focuses here at Ella Financial Advising is protecting our climate. We have multiple clients working to invest in environmental protection, climate change awareness, and planet-saving measures. Recently, my home state of California has taken climate change into the forefront of national discussion through their latest venture: suing five major oil companies. 

 

California’s commitment to renewable energy and a sustainable future has made it famous, but this lawsuit is a new, bold step for our state (GistFest 2023). The state has chosen to sue five of the biggest oil conglomerates—BP, ExxonMobil, Chevron, ConocoPhillips, and Shell—along with the American Petroleum Institute. The suit accuses these companies of intentionally spreading misinformation for their own profit. 




Governor Gavin Newsom and Attorney General Rob Bonta claim that these companies have been deceiving the public for decades about the hazardous nature of their fossil fuels, which have contributed to global warming; damage to our air, land, and water; and dangerous pollution levels. Along with suppressing information about the damage oil is doing to the environment, oil companies have started using some of the information for their own benefit, including scanning the Arctic for oil production as the sea ice begins to melt (www.gov.ca.gov 2023). Newsom and Bonta’s suit demands these companies pay their share of damages caused by wildfires, extreme heat, extreme drought, and sea level rise. 

 

This is a huge step toward true environmental change. If this lawsuit succeeds, oil companies will be forced to admit responsibility for the damages they have caused and the misinformation they have spread. They will be prohibited from creating further pollution and banned from spreading lies about the environmental effects of their products. 



A reduction on climate effects could be huge for our state, especially since in recent years, we have been battered by extreme weather events and sea level rise due to global warming in the atmosphere. Furthermore, if this suit succeeds, it opens the door for more states to open lawsuits against these companies. Though several states and cities—including Rhode Island, Baltimore, and Honolulu—have already filed similar suits, California is currently the largest economy to do so (CNN 2023). If we can succeed here, we may be able to inspire other states to help out in the effort to place more restrictions on these polluting companies. 

 

However, we cannot stop our efforts for change at this one suit. Coal, especially in Asia and China, is the current leading contributor of carbon emissions in the atmosphere, according to Forbes author Robert Rapier. Therefore, we should continuously work to bring awareness to the changes happening in our world and the to the companies, governments, and people responsible. We should continue to create policy changes that limit emissions in all countries and states, not just California. The California oil lawsuit is a great start, but it is not a complete solution. 





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