Standard Oil partner Henry Flager and his men redirected the course of Maria Sanchez Creek, redirecting it to form Maria Sanchez Lake, covering it over to create the space for three hotels, which are now City Hall, Flagler College Ponce de Leon Hall, and Casa Mania hotel.
Environmental crimes, like filling in a marsh to create food-prone Davis Shores, put people in homes subject to flooding.
Not only did Flagler East Coast Railway and Standard Oil monopoly money go to "organize" the water in St. Augustine, those companies' are still around. They bear responsibility to help preserve and protect St. Augustine from ocean level rise.
Our City's design was materially altered by monopolists. Shall we sue those corporations responsible for altering our cityscape and our planet, causing climate change?
California's Marin County, San Mateo County, and the city of Imperial Beach have. Such lawsuits are pending also in Colorado, New York, Maryland, Rhode Island and Washington state.
Here's the problem: Our City lacks will and skill and spine in dealing with corporations, even small ones. Should the City of St. Augustine to sue Exxon and FEC? We need facts. Fortunately, our City is ahead of the curve in the Vulnerability Analysis obtained when Nancy Shaver was Mayor, Let's use the data and discuss litigation options.
Even if St. Augustine does not sue over climate change, it needs rot apply moral suasion to the scions of the current companies whose decisions helped cause St.Augustine flooding.
The City of St. Augustine City Commissioners need to pass the seven generation test set forth in my September 8, 2019 St. Augustine Record column on the anniversary of our City's founding 454 years ago.
From SOUTH FLORIDA SUN SENTINEL:
Big Oil is getting sued for climate change, but some cities won’t join the legal fight
By MARIO ARIZA
SOUTH FLORIDA SUN SENTINEL |
SEP 21, 2019 | 10:38 AM
| FORT LAUDERDALE
At least two South Florida municipalities have declined to pursue lawsuits against fossil fuel companies, but as the costs of adaptation rise along with the temperature, cities, counties and even the state of Rhode Island are increasingly taking fossil fuel producers to court.
“I’m sure I don’t have to tell you about climate change and its impacts on South Florida,” began Marco Simons on Oct. 23, 2018, in front of the Fort Lauderdale City Commission. Simons is America’s regional director and general counsel for EarthRights International, an environmental nonprofit.
As commissioners thumbed their cellphones, Simons walked them through the litigation.
Echoing past lawsuits against Big Tobacco and opioid manufacturers, municipalities have sued fossil-fuel producers for climate damages. At the core of the 13 lawsuits is the claim that fossil-fuel producers knew about the dangers their products posed to the planet, lied about those dangers and profited from those lies.
And the end of his presentation, Simons made the commission an offer.
His organization would work pro-bono with the city to quantify climate impacts. Then, co-counsel from private firms would help file a lawsuit on a contingent basis. Attorneys would collect only if they won. “There’s no upfront cost,” he stressed.
Simons’ organization also approached the cities of Miami Beach and Miami, though those discussions remain unclear. The municipalities could not be reached for comment late Friday afternoon.
The proposal went nowhere with Fort Lauderdale.
Reached by phone, Mayor Dean Trantalis explained: “We are going to have to remain in a holding pattern until some plaintiff secures some measure of success." But he kept open the possibility of suing later on, “if we find that someone has been able to establish a legal foothold, only then would it make sense.”
Other municipalities in the region have been similarly cautious.
Mayra Lindsay, a former mayor and councilwoman for Key Biscayne, said she was approached by a group from California about suing while in office. Key Biscayne also declined to become a plaintiff.
“We’re such a small municipality,” she noted. “Ultimately, taking on such a cost was hard to justify. We had other lawsuits going on.”
The first municipality to sue Big Oil for climate damages was the city of Kivalina. Located approximately 80 miles north of the Arctic Circle, the town of just under 400 mostly Inupiat Alaskan natives has became vulnerable as arctic sea ice retreats.
So on Feb. 26, 2008, Kivalina sued in federal court. Alleging that it was “threaten(ed) with imminent destruction,” the tiny village asked the federal judge for, among other things, monetary damages.
RELATED: Florida farmers gearing up to fight climate change »
Ruling that such a matter was a political question, and that the plaintiffs had no standing, the judge dismissed the lawsuit.
But nine years later, several governments in California tried again.
“We did the vulnerability assessments ... looked at the costs, and were like 'holy moly!” explains Kate Sears, a Marin County Supervisor and a former supervising attorney general with the California Attorney General’s office.
Marin County, San Mateo County, and the city of Imperial Beach all filed suit on the same July day in 2017, but there were three main differences in between their cases and Kivalina’s.
The first was the science. In the interim nine years, advances had made it possible to pinpoint just which oil corporations were responsible for which amount of emissions.
The second was the investigative journalism. The intervening years had seen major advancements in the public narrative about what the oil companies knew about global warming, and when they knew it.
The third main difference was jurisdictional. Marin, San Mateo and the city of Imperial Beach originally filed their claims in state court.
“The question of whether there is a viable claim for damages under state nuisance laws has not yet been settled in any state,” explains Michael Burger, executive director of the Sabin Center for Climate Change Law at Columbia Law School. That means that, as opposed to federal court, state courts might provide municipalities with a home-field advantage, if the cases can avoid getting bounced up to federal court.
Though Burger cautions that the cases remain at a preliminary state, “it’s quite possible that if these cases move to trial the Fossil Fuel Companies could seek to settle the lawsuit.”