By Michael Bastach
New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said his administration’s recent divestment action and lawsuit were meant to “help bring the death knell” to the the oil industry.
But de Blasio’s remarks on killing off the oil industry directly contradict New York City’s statements to the court, filed in their lawsuit against five major oil companies.
De Blasio recently announced the the city would divest its public pension fund from fossil fuels over the next five years, and the mayor filed a lawsuit against five major oil companies demanding billions for damages allegedly caused by global warming.
“Divest from the fossil fuel industry. Let’s help bring the death knell to this industry that’s done so much harm,” de Blasio told Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders in a podcast interview on Thursday.
Sanders has supported prosecuting fossil fuel companies over global warming, including using anti-racketeering laws to go after ExxonMobil for allegedly trying to cover up alarming climate science while funding opposition to environmental policies.
Environmental activists who want to see the end of fossil fuels also supported de Blasio’s suit against oil companies, including Exxon, BP and ConocoPhillips. New York is one of nine localities suing energy companies over global warming.
“Like the tobacco companies that were successfully sued decades ago,” de Blasio said. “We’re also suing five of the biggest including Exxon Mobil for example who systematically poisoned the Earth, knew about it, covered it up, explained it away, tried to hook people more and more on their product.”
“We think that what every city can do and every locality – use your litigation power to go at these bad actors and get the resources back,” de Blasio said. “We’re looking for billions to make up for what they’ve done to us.”
“But the other thing is by divesting, let’s prove that this is an economically unviable industry. This is an industry that its assets should stay in the ground, and it’s not the industry of the future,” de Blasio said.
However, Energy In Depth (EID), an oil and gas industry-funded education project, pointed out that de Blasio’s public statements contradict statements made in the city’s legal filing against oil companies.
New York City claimed it “does not seek to impose liability on Defendants for their direct emissions of greenhouse gases, and does not seek to restrain Defendants from engaging in their business operations.”
“The fact that the Mayor specifically linked his ‘death knell’ comments to the city’s lawsuit and divestiture plan leaves little doubt about what he and the city were trying to achieve with those actions, even if the city claimed otherwise in its official filing,” EID’s Spencer Walrath wrote.
De Blasio has come under fire from media outlets, including sympathetic ones, for suing over global warming while also driving around in a fleet of SUVs. One economist has already pointed out New York City’s lawsuit is riddled with errors on basic facts.