Anne Arundel County Executive Steuart Pittman and Anne Arundel County Attorney Greg Swain yesterday announced that the County filed suit in Anne Arundel County Circuit Court to hold more than two dozen fossil fuel companies accountable for costs the County is incurring to battle the consequences of climate change.
“Filing this suit is about protecting our taxpayers and businesses from the growing fiscal impacts of climate change,” County Executive Steuart Pittman said. “The damage inflicted by these companies damages our environment, and creates massive costs that shouldn’t be borne on the backs of our residents.”
Anne Arundel County’s more than 530 miles of shoreline make it particularly vulnerable to the effects of climate change, including inland and coastal flooding, sea-level rise, and storm surge. The lawsuit seeks to ensure the local financial burden of these companies’ actions do not fall solely on County taxpayers, workers, and businesses.
The County’s lawsuit includes causes of action involving public and private nuisance, among other claims. The County is seeking compensatory and punitive damages along with abatement of nuisances, among other remedies.
According to a County press release:
The lawsuit seeks to help Anne Arundel County recover damages from companies whose decades of deception is harming public and private land and infrastructure in the County. It cites the local effects of climate change, including the threats that sea level rise, flooding, and inundation pose to thousands of residents and homes across the county. According to the complaint:
“Climate change will have and has already had devastating economic and public health impacts throughout Anne Arundel County, Maryland, and will disproportionately impact people of color, people living in poverty, and other vulnerable communities. Defendants have known for decades that climate change impacts could be catastrophic, and that only a narrow window existed to take action before the consequences would be irreversible. They have nevertheless engaged in a coordinated, multi-front effort to conceal and deny their own knowledge of those threats, to discredit the growing body of publicly available scientific evidence, and to persistently create doubt in the minds of customers, consumers, regulators, the media, journalists, teachers, and the public about the reality and consequences of the impacts of their fossil fuel products.” [citations omitted]