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E&E News: Judge accepts science but tosses cases against oil companies

A federal court judge yesterday threw out lawsuits from two California cities seeking to make oil companies pay for worsening sea-level rise and other climate change impacts.

Judge William Alsup of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California granted the request from five oil companies seeking dismissal of the cases brought by San Francisco and Oakland. They were suing Chevron Corp., BP PLC, ConocoPhillips, Exxon Mobil Corp. and Royal Dutch Shell PLC, arguing that the companies make and sell products that when combusted create a public nuisance. The cities also contended that the companies knew the global dangers for decades and hid that information while protecting their assets.

Alsup, a Clinton appointee who in March held a high-profile “tutorial” on climate science, said evaluating blame for warming impacts is a political issue and not one for the courts to decide.

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