Skip to main content

Sign up for our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values. Direct to your inbox.

If you’ve been waiting for the right time to support our work—that time is now.

Our mission is simple: To inform. To inspire. To ignite change for the common good.

But without the support of our readers, this model does not work and we simply won’t survive. It’s that simple.
We must meet our Mid-Year Campaign goal but we need you now.

Please, support independent journalism today.

Join the small group of generous readers who donate, keeping Common Dreams free for millions of people each year. Without your help, we won’t survive.

Edit Krnanska, age 7, splashes and plays in floodwaters around the city dock in Annapolis, Maryland on July 23, 2018. (Photo: Marvin Joseph/<em>The Washington Post</em> via Getty Images)

Edit Krnanska, age 7, splashes and plays in floodwaters around the city dock in Annapolis, Maryland on July 23, 2018. (Photo: Marvin Joseph/The Washington Post via Getty Images)

Coastal Annapolis Becomes 25th US Community to File Climate Suit That Aims to #MakePollutersPay

"This lawsuit shifts the costs back to where they belong, on those whose knowledge, deception, and pursuit of profits brought these dangers to our shores."

Jessica Corbett

Annapolis on Monday joined two dozen cities and states that have filed a "fast-growing wave of climate lawsuits" intended to make fossil fuel giants who spent decades lying about the impact of their products cover the costs of current and future damage.

Maryland's coastal capital city is targeting 26 dirty energy defendants, including oil and gas companies BP, Chevron, ExxonMobil, and Shell as well as the American Petroleum Institute, an industry trade association. The suit—alleging public and private nuisance, negligence, failure to warn, trespass, and violations of Maryland's Consumer Protection Act—was filed in the state's Anne Arundel County Circuit Court.

"This lawsuit is all about accountability and determining who should pay the high costs of dealing with climate change," said Mayor Gavin Buckley. "Annapolis residents and businesses pay the price for the damage inflicted on our infrastructure due to increased flooding caused by sea level rise. Fossil fuel companies knew the danger, concealed their knowledge, and reaped the profits. It is time we held them accountable."

"If we are going to take care of our residents and honor our important history as a community, we need to be resilient in the face of climate change," the Democrat added. "Mitigating the impacts of climate change is expensive. We would not have to spend the kind of money we are forced to spend but for the actions of the fossil fuel industry. This lawsuit shifts the costs back to where they belong, on those whose knowledge, deception, and pursuit of profits brought these dangers to our shores."

According to the Capital Gazette's reporting on the new suit:

Anne Arundel County is also considering similar litigation against oil and gas companies, County Executive Steuart Pittman said Tuesday during his weekly media briefing. Pittman pointed to the county's 130 miles of coastline, parts of which are also at risk [due] to rising sea levels. The county will retain Sher Edling as well in their lawsuit.

"Same law firm, similar kind of case, but it's a separate case," he said.

Annapolis is the 25th community to initiate such a case, according to the city and the Center for Climate Integrity—whose executive director, Richard Wiles, welcomed the filing.

"With this lawsuit, Annapolis joins a growing number of communities across the United States that are turning to the courts to demand that Big Oil companies be held accountable for lying about their leading role in causing climate change," Wiles said. "Just like Big Tobacco—another industry that lied to the public to protect their profits—Big Oil should pay for the damage they knew their products would cause."

Previous climate liability lawsuits have been filed by the cities of Charleston, South Carolina, Hoboken, New Jersey, and Baltimore—Maryland's most populous metropolis—as well as Connecticut, Delaware, and Rhode Island, the Ocean State.

The Annapolis suit cites various studies from Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS) about climate impacts on Annapolis along with reports about what #ExxonKnew—and tried to conceal from policymakers and the public—about the dangers of fossil fuels for decades.

Kathy Mulvey, accountability campaign director in the Climate and Energy Program at UCS, said the growing number of cases "shows that people and communities are fed up with having to shell out huge sums of money to address a crisis that these companies knowingly brought on."

As Mike Tidwell, executive director of the Chesapeake Climate Action Network, put it: "Big Oil knew their products would cause catastrophic climate damages decades ago. Instead of doing the right thing, they continued to lie about it while communities like Annapolis are paying the price."

"The city's leaders should be applauded for working to ensure that their residents aren't stuck with the bill to protect themselves from a problem that Big Oil knowingly caused," he said.

The lawsuit follows a pair of recent scientific studies that, as Common Dreams reported, bolstered alarm over experts' warnings about rising seas.


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

"I'm sure this will be all over the corporate media, right?"
That’s what one longtime Common Dreams reader said yesterday after the newsroom reported on new research showing how corporate price gouging surged to a nearly 70-year high in 2021. While major broadcasters, newspapers, and other outlets continue to carry water for their corporate advertisers when they report on issues like inflation, economic inequality, and the climate emergency, our independence empowers us to provide you stories and perspectives that powerful interests don’t want you to have. But this independence is only possible because of support from readers like you. You make the difference. If our support dries up, so will we. Our crucial Mid-Year Campaign is now underway and we are in emergency mode to make sure we raise the necessary funds so that every day we can bring you the stories that corporate, for-profit outlets ignore and neglect. Please, if you can, support Common Dreams today.

 

Motorist 'Tried to Murder' Abortion Rights Advocates at Iowa Protest, Witnesses Say

Although one witness said the driver went "out of his way" to hit pro-choice protestors in the street, Cedar Rapids police declined to make an arrest.

Kenny Stancil ·


'A Hate Crime': Oslo Pride Parade Canceled After Deadly Shooting at Gay Bar

A 42-year-old gunman has been charged with terrorism following what Norway's prime minister called a "terrible and deeply shocking attack on innocent people."

Kenny Stancil ·


'We WILL Fight Back': Outrage, Resolve as Protests Erupt Against SCOTUS Abortion Ruling

Demonstrators took to the streets Friday to defiantly denounce the Supreme Court's right-wing supermajority after it rescinded a constitutional right for the first time in U.S. history.

Brett Wilkins ·


80+ US Prosecutors Vow Not to Be Part of Criminalizing Abortion Care

"Criminalizing and prosecuting individuals who seek or provide abortion care makes a mockery of justice," says a joint statement signed by 84 elected attorneys. "Prosecutors should not be part of that."

Kenny Stancil ·


Progressives Rebuke Dem Leadership as Clyburn Dismisses Death of Roe as 'Anticlimactic'

"The gap between the Democratic leadership, and younger progressives on the question of 'How Bad Is It?' is just enormous."

Julia Conley ·

Common Dreams Logo