BOULDER, Colo. -- At a rally on Pearl Street in Boulder on Tuesday, city and county leaders announced they will be suing two major energy producers, ExxonMobil and Suncor, alleging they are responsible for climate change.
"This is about fiscal responsibility, it's about climate accountability," Boulder Mayor Suzanne Jones said.
"Local governments simply cannot afford to foot the bill of climate change alone so we are asking for compensation for those companies who have benefited tremendously huge profits from fossil fuels."
Joining in the lawsuit is San Miguel County in southwest Colorado.
Similar climate change lawsuits have been filed on the East and West Coasts -- particularly in cities dealing with rising sea levels. The Boulder lawsuit is the first from a landlocked state.
It does not ask for specific damages and if they are successful, it's expected to be a multiyear, multicourt effort, likely culminating with a ruling from the Colorado Supreme Court.
Matt Dempsey with the Western Energy Alliance, a group that advocates on behalf of oil and gas producers, called the action a "political stunt" by Boulder leaders.
"This is a media stunt, this is a way to look like they are doing something. Meanwhile, the oil and gas industry is doing substantial efforts to address climate change," Dempsey said.
The Colorado Oil and Gas Association released a statement.
Coloradans won’t fall for this political stunt. This is not a serious way to address climate concerns. A number of courts, including the United States Supreme Court, already have dismissed prior cases making similar allegations, based on the fact Congress enacted the Clean Air Act to manage emissions that may impact our environment. This lawsuit is similarly misguided. It improperly seeks to have judges, rather than the appropriate regulatory oversight agencies, decide how much carbon dioxide a company emits. Oil and natural gas operators should not be subject to liability for doing nothing more than engaging in the act of commerce while adhering to our already stringent state and federal laws.”
“Our Colorado operators will continue to lead the way by producing our natural resources cleaner and better than anywhere else. Emissions on the Front Range have gone down in recent years while production has gone up. And U.S. carbon emissions are at a nearly 25-year low due to the increased use of cleaner burning and abundant natural gas for electric power generation.”