City of Imperial Beach Sues 37 Top Global Oil Companies Over Rise in Sea Level

Mayor Dedina says oil companies are for new flooding in community

The City of Imperial Beach and two other California cities is suing dozens of the world's biggest oil companies over climate change.

Mayor Serge Dedina said Imperial Beach has already started to see the effects of climate change impact the city first-hand. 

"We did a sea level rise release study and we had scientists do an assessment of what would happen in the future here," said Dedina.

Those numbers came out two years ago, and Dedina said flooding has only gotten worse.

The lawsuit, filed Monday in Superior Court, challenges 37 global oil, gas and coal companies. Some of the largest names include Exxon Mobil, Shell, and Chevron.

The companies are directly responsible for the climate change some coastal cities are experiencing, he said. 

"We are working with a whole group of scientists that have measured their carbon inputs in the environment," Dedina said.

NBC 7 reached out to the American Petroleum Institute, one of the companies being sued by Dedina.

In a statement, they said:

"The United States is leading the world in the production and refining of oil and natural gas, creating thousands of American high paying jobs, saving consumers at the pump and in heating and cooling costs, while we are also leading the world in reducing carbon emissions which are near 25 year lows. We are also investing more than double that of any other industry in zero- and low-emissions technologies and almost as much as the federal government."

Dedina said the companies' greenhouse gas emissions are warming the planet, melting the glaciers and in turn, making the sea-level rise.

"We are talking about [Date Street], Seacoast Drive. We are talking about Bayfront, and two elementary schools could be impacted by coastal flooding," he said.

Imperial Beach is surrounded by water on three sides. Dedina said flooding became a problem during El Nino's tropical storms and the rainy months in the winter. 

It's been an issue for the past two to three years, he said. 

Dedina said he believes that in less than 100 years, the city will have to deal with beach erosion, property loss, and readjusting infrastructure systems that control wastewater.

There is currently a political and popular debate concerning whether climate change exists.

Mayor Dedina said he hopes to get a response from the companies by September.

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