Small Town Sues Oil Industry After Being Deceived by Corporations for Decades

By: Beth Moreton | Published: Apr 20, 2024

With the climate crisis becoming increasingly prevalent today, both experts and the public are looking at what might be causing it and how it can be stopped.

Bucks County, Pennsylvania, has realized it has been failed by big oil companies, which it believes have lied to it about its part in the climate crisis. As such, it is now suing them in what could become a landmark case. 

Bucks County Blames the Oil Industry for Accelerating Global Warming

The lawsuit that Bucks County has taken out against the oil industry is due to them believing it is oil companies who are the causing factor in accelerating global warming.

There are some oil rigs in the middle of the ocean. The rigs are black and spaced out in different parts of the ocean. The sun is setting in the background, and birds are flying around the rigs.

Source: Ben Wicks/Unsplash

Due to the damage caused by global warming, AP News reports that the people living there want the oil companies to pay the money needed to repair the damage. 


Lives Have Been Lost

Climate change and global warming have caused events that have resulted in lives being lost.

Some flood damage in Pennsylvania. Buildings have fallen, and there are many rocks and water along the road. Part of the road has collapsed.

Source: Governor Tom Wolf/Wikimedia Commons

AP News reported on a flash flood in Pennsylvania in July 2023 that resulted in several lives being lost and completely devastated the east coast of Pennsylvania. 

Other Natural Disasters Were Caused by Global Warming

The flood in Pennsylvania wasn’t the only reason Bucks County sued big oil companies. Many other natural disasters have occurred as a result of global warming.

A forest fire. Fire is passing through the trees, and the area is full of smoke.

Source: Matt Howard/Unsplash

This includes saltwater intrusion and extreme heat, something the people of Bucks County blame on global warming caused by burning fossil fuels.

Big Oil Companies Have Known the Effects Since the 1950s

While some might argue that the effects of global warming have only recently become apparent, others say they have been known about for decades.

This is an empty gas station at night. There are two gas pumps, and the station is lit up with lights on the roof.

Source: Markus Spiske/Unsplash

Bucks County Commissioner Gene DiGirolamo said big oil companies have known about the effects of burning fossil fuels on the planet since the 1950s and that it should be their responsibility, not taxpayers, to pay for the damage caused,

Oil Companies Have Been Greenwashing

The Cool Down reports that oil companies have been greenwashing their customers. 

This is a cartoon depiction of greenwashing. It shows a man on a ladder painting industrial chimneys green. They all have smoke coming out of them. The last three chimneys are orange, but the man is painting over them in green paint.

Source: @antoniveciana/X

This is where a company will hide the true effects of a product on the environment from its customers, sometimes going as far as to claim their product has a positive effect on the environment even though it’s not true. 


Several Oil Companies Are Being Sued

Bucks County has decided to file lawsuits against six big oil companies so they can receive payment for the costs incurred due to the effects of burning fossil fuels on the planet.

This is a Chevron gas station. The photo was taken at night and shows two gas pumps at the station. A red car is driving past.

Source: Luis Ramirez/Unsplash

The companies named in the lawsuit are ExxonMobil, Chevron, Shell, BP, ConocoPhillips, Phillips 66, and the American Petroleum Institute, per the Center for Climate Integrity


Pennsylvania Is Set to Spend Billions

A report has examined how much Pennsylvania is set to spend on the effects of global warming on the state.

An image of a town in Pennsylvania. A tree is turning red, and some shops are on the opposite side of the road with cars parked outside.

Source: Harrison Keely/Wikimedia Commons

A report was created by the Center for Climate Integrity, which concluded that Pennsylvania will spend just over $15 billion as a minimum by 2040 to protect those living there from the effects of global warming. 


Other States Have Filed Similar Lawsuits

As other states have done the same, Pennsylvania isn’t the first US state to file a lawsuit against oil companies.

The Golden Gate Bridge is in San Francisco, California. It is red and is next to a beach.

Source: Christian Mehlführer/Wikimedia Commons

California, Jersey, and Delaware are among the states that have also filed cases, all of which have been outlined by the Center for Climate Integrity.


The Department of Justice Has Sided With Communities

In a reverse from their previous pro-Trump stance, the US Department of Justice has sided with communities who are suing oil companies regarding global warming.

The US Department of Justice. A woman is standing in front of a lectern, and six men and one woman are standing behind her. The woman at the lectern is addressing a room full of people.

Source: US Department of Justice/Wikimedia Commons

The Center for Climate Integrity reported that the DOJ changed its stance in March 2023, which marked a landslide moment for the push from states against big oil companies. 


Individuals Are Encouraged to Make Greener Choices

Websites such as NOAA National Ocean Service encourage individuals to make greener choices, such as taking public transport or planting trees. 

A tree in a plant pot ready to be planted in a field.

Source: George Bakos/Unsplash

However, the effects on the environment by burning fossil fuels tend to far outweigh any changes made by individuals, which could make these changes go to waste. 


Voting for Climate-Friendly Candidates

According to The Cool Down, individuals are also being encouraged to vote for climate-friendly candidates who have policies that will benefit the environment.

A black and white image of a person placing their voting slip into a ballot box.

Source: Element5 Digital/Unsplash

It remains to be seen how these candidates will be able to change the environment if they are voted into power, but many are keen for individuals to make these changes while waiting for the results of the oil company lawsuit.