Climate Change Lawsuit Against Shell Moves Forward

Company’s climate deception putting Providence at risk

Google image of the Shell Providence Terminal

September 28, 2020 (PROVIDENCE, RI) – A Conservation Law Foundation (CLF) lawsuit against Shell Oil will proceed to discovery after a federal judge rejected the company’s motion to dismiss the case today. CLF’s lawsuit alleges that Shell has put Providence and Narragansett Bay in harm’s way by failing to prepare its oil storage terminal for the worsening impacts of climate change.

“Today’s decision means we will have our day in court on unlawful Shell decisions that left Providence families and all of Narragansett Bay at imminent risk of catastrophic oil and toxic chemical spills,” said CLF President Bradley Campbell. “The company has for years deceived regulators and the public about the global and local risks of the climate crisis. CLF will now have the opportunity to hold Shell accountable for years of neglect and outright deceit at the expense of public safety.”

The parties will now pursue the discovery process, marking the first time a private fossil fuel entity will need to fully answer for its knowledge of climate change and the risks it presents.

All of CLF’s claims will move forward, but the judge did find that the organization does not have standing for harm far into the future. Judge Smith noted “[t]he Complaint makes clear that a major weather event, magnified by the effects of climate change, could happen at virtually any time, resulting in the catastrophic release of pollutants due to Defendants’ alleged failure to adapt the Terminal to address those impending effects.”

Shell is failing to accurately report what pollutants its oil storage terminal releases into the Providence River and neglecting to prepare its facility for climate change impacts. This violates the federal Clean Water Act and the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act. Shell’s terminal sits directly in harm’s way as sea levels rise, rains get more intense, and storms grow more extreme.

Today’s decision can be found here. You can learn more about CLF’s case against Shell here.

CLF experts are available for further comment.