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Newsom sues Big Oil for climate change while issuing more oil drilling permits in California
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Dennis Wyatt

Gov. Gavin Newsom is aiding and abetting Big Oil in destroying the planet via climate change.

In September, Newsom and Attorney General Rob Bonta sued Chevron, Shell, British Petroleum, ConocoPhillips, Exxon Mobil, and the American Petroleum Institute in San Francisco County Superior Court.

“For more than 50 years, Big Oil has been lying to us — covering up the fact that they’ve long known how dangerous the fossil fuels they produce are for our planet,” Newsom said in announcing the lawsuit.

Meanwhile, Bonta claimed the oil and gas companies “have privately known the truth for decades — that the burning of fossil fuels leads to climate change — but have fed us lies and mistruths to further their record-breaking profits at the expense of our environment .... It is time they pay to abate the harm they have caused.”

The lawsuit cites the oil industry’s failure to warn of a danger, false advertising, and creating a public nuisance.

California is one of five states going after Big Oil for supposedly violating their respective state’s laws on those three legal points. The other states are Connecticut, New Jersey, Minnesota, and Rhode Island.

Last month, 19 states took the rare step of going directly to the U.S. Supreme Court to block the states from suing Big Oil. They assert the five states through damages and such they are seeking are essentially acting as de facto dictators of out-of-state carbon emissions.

The 19 states, led by Alabama, contend only the federal government has the power to do that. Alabama Attorney General Steve Marshall contends California, et al, are crossing a constitutional line.

“The theory advanced by these states is truly radical: A small gas station in rural Alabama could owe money to the people of Minnesota simply for selling a gallon of gas,” Marshall contends. “The customer might even be liable too. These states are welcome to enforce their preferred policies within their jurisdiction, but they do not have authority to dictate our national energy policy. If the Supreme Court lets them continue, California and its allies will imperil access to affordable energy for every American.”

Big Oil, in a separate filing with the high court, insists climate change is a global issue and not a state issue, so therefore it falls under Congress to set federal energy policy and not lawmakers in Sacramento.

“This is pure partisan political theater,” said Connecticut Attorney General William Tong in a statement. “Our case is about truth in advertising, and not emissions control.”

Interesting retort.

Except there’s one problem.

California and its legal posse want significant monetary damages. A de facto carbon tax on Big Oil, if you will.

While ultimately consumers will get stuck with the bill and not Big Oil, that’s not the twisted part.

Newsom, in September, made it clear that Big Oil is “creating a public nuisance.”

Yet in May, the California Geological Energy Division issued 13 drilling permits for Berry Petroleum in Kern County.

Ten were for new oil producing wells. Three were observation wells.

And just for giggles, the vice president of Berry Petroleum not too long ago was a high-level state oil regulator.

Newsom, as governor, is supposed to be running the state of California. That makes him the head bureaucrat, so to speak. So while he’s telling the courts Big Oil is a public nuisance, his administration is busy issuing permits for new wells so the defendants can continue being public nuisances.

That means Newsom — and the state of California — are aiding and abetting Big Oil to be a public nuisance. If any lawsuit is political theater, it is the one Newsom filed in September.

Newsom has made it clear climate change is a threat to California. Yet he’s now helping the very people he accuses of deliberate deception for decades to continue to drill more wells to produce more fossil fuel via the creation of 13 new sources of greenhouse gas in Kern County.

It’s the French Laundry all over again.

Instead of ordering everyone to wear masks while dining out at the height of the pandemic and then ignoring his own executive order, Newsom is telling the people of the state one thing in a court filing and then helping those who he is suing basically for crimes committed against California to enhance their ability to be a public nuisance.

Of course, the reason Newsom is doing the Sacramento two-step is political theater.

Sacramento would clearly like to get its hands on more money which is the ultimate goal of their lawsuit.

What Newsom is doing is no different than declaring Bonnie & Clyde Public Enemy No. 1 and then helping them case their next bank job.

His actions also make a mockery of his posturing for environmental justice.

Newsom threw down the legal gauntlet when he filled the lawsuit. As such, you’d think he would feel that he has a moral — if not political and legal obligation — to look after the vulnerable population of Kern County.

You could make the case Sacramento for decades has known how fossil fuel emissions contributed to rampant respiratory maladies in Kern County yet has been complicit in allowing more wells to be drilled in California.

It’s actually not much different than what Sacramento accuses Big Oil of doing which is profiting off of fossil fuel while knowing it was a serious threat public health and safety.

Big Oil did it for profits.

California, which not too long ago was the third highest state for oil production and is now the seventh, did it for taxes.

Funny, but both profits and taxes are about the money collected.

Big Oil is essentially being sued by their partners in crime, Big Government.

At when all the dust settles, the ones that will be left with the empty pockets are the little guys.

—  This column is the opinion of editor, Dennis Wyatt, and does not necessarily represent the opinions of The Courier or 209 Multimedia. He may be reached at