Charleston sues energy companies over sea level rise

Charleston sues energy companies over sea level rise
September 10 08:13 2020 Print This Article

Blaming companies that extract, transport and refine petroleum for sea level rise, City of Charleston filed a lawsuit against about two dozen energy companies Wednesday in South Carolina circuit court. The city joins about 20 other state and local governments engaged in similar legal action. San Francisco law firm Sher Edling is handling the case on a contingency basis. The suit asks for jurors to determine the punitive damages resulting from flooding.

Sea level rise has been gradual since before 1900, averaging about 3 millimeters per year. The climate change theory suggests that carbon dioxide (CO2) emitted through the combustion of refined oil products, natural gas and coal. The Charleston lawsuit did not name any coal companies. CO2 makes up 0.04% of earth’s atmosphere, and human activity is responsible for about 3 to 4 percent of that tiny concentration.

It is not clear to what extent sea level rise accounts for flooding in Charleston. Other factors which contribute to flooding include filling and paving wetlands, building structures on foundations elevated by fill dirt, clear-cutting trees, and not properly maintaining the drainage infrastructure.