Hoboken Files Lawsuit Against Big Oil Companies Over Climate Change

Written by:

Hoboken filed a major lawsuit against big oil companies on Wednesday morning, joining a growing list of cities across the United States saying that big oil companies are responsible for damages caused by climate change — and need to pay.

flooding climate change

At a press conference at the 7th and Jackson Resiliency Park, Mayor Bhalla said in a speech against big oil companies that the lawsuit is meant to “hold these big oil companies accountable and help pay for current and future costs in Hoboken associated with climate change adaptation, remediation, and economic losses.” Joined at the conference by scientists and government officials, Bhalla cited climate studies linking recent intense storms and floods to burning fossil fuels.

“The big oil companies are the latest example of reckless corporate greed,” Bhalla said. “The sad reality is that the lawsuit we filed today details and documents the distributing fact that as early as the 1960s, big oil’s own climate scientists conducted studies that if their own companies continued to damage our planet through fossil fuels, we would see the same devastating effects and impacts that we’re experiencing today in 2020.”

The lawsuit comes at no cost to the city of Hoboken or taxpayers, Bhalla said.

Read More: Hoboken Votes on a Tax 5% Tax Levy Increase

The 146-page lawsuit includes details on how big oil companies allegedly deceived trade partners, local governments, and the general public. The lawsuit alleges that big oil companies concealed internal research that found burning fossil fuels will contribute to the erosion of coastal communities. It also alleges that big oil companies ran public “greenwashing” campaigns to discredit climate science, funded scientifically unsound research, and created “expansive networks of front groups to ‘[r]eposition global warming as theory, not fact.'”

The lawsuit said that climate change is an issue especially important to Hoboken because “Hoboken is uniquely vulnerable to sea level rise.”

Read More: Climate Change Q+A With Director of Environmental Services Jen Gonzalez 

“Defendants, some of the world’s largest fossil fuel companies and their largest trade association, have known for more than a half-century that the fossil fuels they extract, produce, market, and sell on a massive scale are causing accelerating climate change that poses grave threats to society—sea level rise, extreme heat, and increasingly destructive storms, among many others,” the lawsuit says. “Instead of addressing those threats, Defendants have spent the last fifty years deceiving the public about their central role in causing climate change in order to grease the wheels of their ever-expanding production and sale of fossil fuels.”

The lawsuit also makes reference to racial issues, saying, “Like in other cities, the effects of climate change caused by Big Oil companies have had greater impacts on low-income communities and communities of color. In Hoboken, the Hoboken Housing Authority (HHA) suffered millions of dollars of damage due to Superstorm Sandy, some impacts of which are still felt today.”

The lawsuit against ExxonMobil, Shell, Conoco, Chevron, Phillips66, and American Petroleum Institute can be found here.


Written by:

Matthew Cunningham covers local stories on LGBTQ life, city council, local business, inequality, and science. Born in Arkansas, Matthew is a student at Stevens Institute of Technology and a proud gay Hoboken resident. When he isn't dashing to a zoning board meeting or interviewing lawmakers, he enjoys exploring restaurants on Washington Street, scootering on Frank Sinatra Drive, and getting a taste of the big city life.