In 2012, Hurricane Sandy ravaged the New York City metro area, leaving thousands of displaced residents and an estimated $32 billion in damages in its wake. Now, the city is tapping the oil industry for repayment.
Yesterday, mayor Bill de Blasio announced that NYC plans to sue five oil companies—BP, Chevron, ConocoPhillips, Exxon Mobil, and Royal Dutch Shell—for their contributions to climate change and the extreme weather events it has helped spur.
"We're bringing the fight against climate change straight to the fossil fuel companies that knew about its effects and intentionally misled the public to protect their profits," de Blasio said in a press conference. "As climate change continues to worsen, it's up to the fossil fuel companies whose greed put us in this position to shoulder the cost of making New York safer and more resilient."
The lawsuit claims that the city is “spending billions of dollars” to protect coastlines from storm surges and rising sea levels, constructing barriers like sea walls, levees, and dunes around the island. According to some estimates, the water surrounding the city could rise by six feet within the next 100 years.
In addition to the lawsuit, NYC also plans to immediately remove $5 billion of city investments in the fossil fuel industry in what is being called the largest ever municipal divestment in the U.S.
Similar litigation against the oil industry has already been filed by west coast cities such as San Francisco, Oakland, and Santa Cruz, but it rings a little more tremendous in NYC. Last night, the Empire State Building donned a brilliant shade of green and acclaimed environmentalist Bill McKibben deemed it "One of the biggest days in 30 years of the climate fight" on Twitter.
Many New Yorkers hope it's only the beginning. Come October, thousands of locals plan to march across areas where Sandy hit hardest, demanding that their city commits to 100 percent renewable energy. The Big Apple is in the midst of big change, and we couldn't be more excited about it.