Inside NYC's Billions-Dollar Salvo Against Oil

FEB. 13 2015 FILE

Inside NYC's Billions-Dollar Salvo Against Oil

This is in line with many divestment efforts by many states and provinces all across the world, which is putting the fossil fuel industry in a tight spot.

Today, four out of every five taxpayer-dollars collected by New York City's personal income tax are spent paying down the city's public pension fund system's liabilities, a 567 percent increase over the past 15 years.

Responding to the suit, a representative for Royal Dutch Shell told the Associated Press that climate change is a complex issue that should not be addressed by the courts.

"Certainly, the magnitude of past expenditures in dealing with the resiliency issues and remediating from the devastating effects of Sandy has been in the billions", he said, referring to the 2012 superstorm.

Department of Housing Preservation and Development Commissioner Maria Torres-Springer, said, "We are leaving no stone unturned in our efforts to produce affordable housing at unprecedented levels". An analysis commissioned by the Suffolk County (N.Y.) Association of Municipal Employees found divesting from energy companies could cost the state pension funds more than $3 billion in lost returns over 20 years.

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"Today Mayor de Blasio turned his back millions of first responders, police officers and public employees who depend on their pensions to provide for themselves and their families in retirement", said Karen Moreau of the American Petroleum Institute, the largest USA oil and gas lobbying group.

But for environmental groups, it's time for fossil fuel companies to pay up.

In fact, NY remains divided over the best way to advocate for better climate policies. "And what a awful, disgusting way to profit". Saying these companies put profits ahead of principles, the 67-page filing makes frequent comparisons between the fossil fuel industry of the 2000s and the tobacco industry of the 1990s, which employed "disinformation campaigns" to encourage use of its products.

As for the lack of heat and hot water, the mayor said, rather airily: "The folks who work at NYCHA are trying to hold something together...that really should've gotten investment a long time ago".

"Because we have to change the reality in our society, first of all".

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A day before New York's announcement, Jack Gerard, CEO of the American Petroleum Institute, gave his annual address on the state of the oil industry, and there was a noticeable shift in the message when it came to climate change.

"This is one of a handful of the most important moments in the 30-year fight against climate change", said Bill McKibben, the activist and Nation contributor, who joined de Blasio in addressing the press conference.

New York's goal of eliminating about $5 billion in securities of almost 200 oil companies, would be among the biggest public pension divestments from fossil fuels to date, the city said in a statement. We are suing them because we believe we can successfully sue them.

"There are many countries and companies that bear responsibility here".

The legal action comes on the heels of lawsuits filed in the last six months by seven California localities, including Oakland and San Francisco, demanding billions from oil companies in order to build higher seawalls and other climate-driven infrastructure projects.

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