Josh Block, CLF (617-850-1709)
John Valinch, GreenRoots (617-716-9987)
CLF suit raises questions about ExxonMobil’s readiness for climate change impacts
December 8, 2016 (BOSTON, MA) — More than 160 residents and community leaders from the Boston area today called on ExxonMobil in a hand-delivered letter to take swift action to fortify its Everett, MA facility in preparation for threats posed by climate change. The letter asks that ExxonMobil provide local organizations and residents with more information on steps the company is taking to minimize the threat of a spill brought on by rising sea levels and storm surges exacerbated by climate change.
“For too long, Exxon has treated our community like a dumping ground, denied us access to our waterways, and taken us for granted,” said lifelong Chelsea resident and GreenRoots activist John Valinch. “Our 1.8 square mile city might be small but we are mighty. It’s time for Exxon to tell us the truth about the danger posed by its Everett facility. We will not rest until we get the answers we deserve.”
The letter was prompted by a recent lawsuit filed in September by Conservation Law Foundation (CLF) against ExxonMobil. The suit argues that ExxonMobil’s climate denial and failure to upgrade its facility in Everett — despite mapping by the National Hurricane Center, which indicates that a Category 1 storm would leave the entire oil terminal under water — has left the Boston Harbor and surrounding communities vulnerable to a potentially catastrophic oil spill.
GreenRoots, Inc., based in Chelsea, MA, is a member-led organization working to tackle significant environmental justice threats such as those caused by ExxonMobil. GreenRoots, the Mystic River Watershed Association and La Comunidad, Inc., based in Everett, MA, are supporting CLF’s efforts because these organizations serve the communities most vulnerable to catastrophic effects cause by climate change.
“A company that literally rakes in billions in profits each month should not be allowed to transfer the risks and costs associated with an oil spill to people living in the surrounding area,” said CLF President Bradley Campbell. “We filed suit against ExxonMobil to ensure that such a disaster doesn’t happen for what would be the second time in the company’s history at this location.”
In 2006, ExxonMobil spilled nearly 15,000 gallons of oil into the Mystic River, resulting in a multi-million dollar fine by the U.S. Attorney. Since then, however, Exxon’s facility has continued to leak toxic chemicals and other hazardous materials into the river through groundwater pollution. At the same time, documents uncovered in two independent investigations conducted by InsideClimate News and the Los Angeles Times reveal that ExxonMobil took climate-related impacts seriously enough that it redesigned its rigs in the North Sea so they could fare rising tides.
Since the publication of these stories, state attorneys general in New York and Massachusetts have launched investigations to determine whether ExxonMobil’s climate denial amounted to fraud. More recently, the Wall Street Journal reported that the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) is also investigating ExxonMobil regarding its valuation and how it is preparing for policy intended to mitigate climate change.
To date, CLF is the only party to formally file suit against the company for its climate deceit. In fact, it is the first lawsuit of its kind in U.S. history.
CLF and GreenRoots experts are available for further comment.