Skip to main content

Why are the billionaires always laughing?

Because they know the corporate media will never call bullshit on their bullshit.

Why are the billionaires laughing?

It’s easy to laugh when the corporate press treats you as a glorious success instead of the epitome of a broken social order. Billionaires laugh because they know the corporate media prefers to fawn over them rather than hold them to account.

Today, we ask you to support our nonprofit, independent journalism because we are not impressed by billionaires flying into space, their corporations despoiling our health and planet, or their vast fortunes safely concealed in tax havens across the globe. We are not laughing.

We are hard at work producing journalism for the common good. With our Fall Campaign underway, please support this mission today. We cannot do it without you.

Support Our Work -- Join the small group of generous readers who donate, keeping Common Dreams free for millions of people each year. Every donation—large or small—helps us bring you the news that matters.

Ellicott City, Maryland

Ellicott City, Maryland—located less than 15 miles west of Baltimore—was devastating in late May when the second "1,000 year flood" in two years caused dangerous flash flooding throughout the city. (Photo: @BKMovie2018/Twitter)

On 'Front Lines of Climate Change,' Baltimore Lawsuit Aims to Hold 26 Fossil Fuel Companies Accountable

"These oil and gas companies knew for decades that their products would harm communities like ours."

Jessica Corbett

Baltimore, Maryland on Friday became the latest city to file suit against major oil and gas companies, aiming to hold them accountable for the "potentially catastrophic" damage that the global climate crisis—which is largely the result of burning fossil fuels—is increasingly inflicting on coastal communities the world over.

"We're now on the front lines of climate change because melting ice caps, more frequent heat waves, extreme storms, and other climate consequences caused by fossil fuel companies are threatening our city and imposing real costs on our taxpayers."
—Baltimore Mayor Catherine Pugh

"These oil and gas companies knew for decades that their products would harm communities like ours," declared Baltimore City Solicitor Andre Davis. "They could have warned us. They could have taken steps to minimize or avoid the damage."

"In fact, they had a responsibility to do both, but they didn't, and that's why we are taking them to court," Davis added. "Baltimore's residents, workers, and businesses shouldn't have to pay for the damage knowingly caused by these companies."

Filed on Friday in the state's Circuit Court for Baltimore City, the lawsuit (pdf) names 26 companies—including BP, Chevron, ConocoPhillips, and ExxonMobil, and Royal Dutch Shell—some of which have been common targets in other climate liability suits filed across the country.

The city's suit outlines how these companies have misled the public about the risks of their products and reaped enormous profits, all while pouring greenhouse gases into the Earth's atmosphere that have resulted in "global warming, rising atmospheric and ocean temperatures, ocean acidification, melting polar ice caps and glaciers, more extreme and volatile weather, and sea level rise."

Baltimore is the East Coast's fifth-largest city, and features some 60 miles of waterfront. Lisa Anne Hamilton of the Center for International Environmental Law (CIEL) warned that the climate crisis "poses increasingly urgent and calamitous risks to Baltimore residents," noting that "in just the past two years, the Baltimore area was hit by two catastrophic 'once in a 1,000 year' storms."

"We're now on the front lines of climate change because melting ice caps, more frequent heat waves, extreme storms, and other climate consequences caused by fossil fuel companies are threatening our city and imposing real costs on our taxpayers," asserted Baltimore Mayor Catherine Pugh, who announced the lawsuit on Friday morning.

"Taxpayers in Baltimore can no longer afford to foot the bill for damages knowingly caused by climate polluters, nor should they have to," responded Richard Wiles, executive director of the Center for Climate Integrity. "The people of Baltimore deserve their day in court."

Baltimore's filing comes just a day after a federal judge dismissed New York City's suit against five top fossil fuels firms, and about a month after another federal judge tossed out a pair of suits brought by two cities in California. Despite those setbacks, several other cases are working their way through the courts, including a suit filed by Rhode Island, the first state to pursue this type of legal action against major oil and gas companies.

"The catastrophic impacts of climate change predicted by companies like Exxon decades ago have arrived," concluded Wiles. "It's only fitting then that the wave of lawsuits the industry have long feared and planned for have as well."


Our work is licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). Feel free to republish and share widely.

This is the world we live in. This is the world we cover.

Because of people like you, another world is possible. There are many battles to be won, but we will battle them together—all of us. Common Dreams is not your normal news site. We don't survive on clicks. We don't want advertising dollars. We want the world to be a better place. But we can't do it alone. It doesn't work that way. We need you. If you can help today—because every gift of every size matters—please do. Without Your Support We Simply Don't Exist.

New Whistleblower Sparks Calls to 'Crack Down on Facebook and All Big Tech Companies'

Hours after another ex-employee filed a formal complaint, reporting broke on internal documents that show the tech giant's failure to address concerns about content related to the 2020 U.S. election.

Jessica Corbett ·


'Catastrophic and Irreparable Harm' to Wolves Averted as Wisconsin Judge Cancels Hunt

"We are heartened by this rare instance of reason and democracy prevailing in state wolf policy," said one conservation expert.

Brett Wilkins ·


West Virginia Constituents Decry 'Immorality' of Joe Manchin

"West Virginia has been locked into an economy that forces workers into low-wage jobs with no hope for advancement, and after decades of this our hope is dwindling," said one West Virginian. "The cuts that Sen. Manchin has negotiated into the agenda hurt our state."

Julia Conley ·


'Texans Deserved Better Than This': Supreme Court Leaves Abortion Ban in Place

The nation's high court set a date to hear a pair of legal challenges to the "horrific" restrictions.

Jessica Corbett ·


'Like It Never Happened': Federal Judge Tosses Trump Attack on Clean Water Rule

Denying a Biden administration request to temporarily retain the rule, the judge reestablished "the careful balance of state and federal power to protect clean water that Congress intended when it wrote the Clean Water Act."

Brett Wilkins ·

Support our work.

We are independent, non-profit, advertising-free and 100% reader supported.

Subscribe to our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values.
Direct to your inbox.

Subscribe to our Newsletter.


Common Dreams, Inc. Founded 1997. Registered 501(c3) Non-Profit | Privacy Policy
Common Dreams Logo