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Slocan council votes unanimously to sue Big Oil

By Contributor
February 14th, 2024

On Monday evening, Slocan Council voted 5-0 to work with other local governments towards a class action lawsuit against global fossil fuel companies for a share of the costs of climate change, and to pledge $1 per resident for that purpose once other local governments come on board.

The Village of Slocan is the first municipality in the BC interior to make such a pledge, and the fifth municipality in BC. West Coast Environmental Law, the West Kootenay Climate Hub and the West Kootenay Sue Big Oil Action Team applauded the decision.

“The Slocan Valley is at grave risk of devastating wildfires in a warming world. Wildfire management is terribly expensive and while our local governments try to do what is needed to keep us safe, they have a small tax base and cannot afford the escalating costs associated with wildfire management and other climate change impacts,” said Laura Sacks, Coordinator for the West Kootenay Climate Hub. “We are very pleased to see Slocan Council make this forward-thinking and fiscally-responsible decision to join with other BC local governments to hold Big Oil accountable for a fair share of climate costs.”

“Similar to the successful lawsuits against Big Tobacco and Big Pharma, Big Oil should be forced to pay for the climate harms that they are causing Slocan and other communities,” said Fiona Koza, Climate Accountability Strategist at West Coast Environmental Law. “The fossil fuel industry knew in the 1950s and 60s that their products would cause climate damage to communities around the world, but they chose to massively expand their production and made trillions of dollars in profits while undermining climate science, spreading misinformation and blocking climate action.”

“The challenges faced by small communities related to climate change are enormous and our resources are limited,” commented Slocan Councillor Jordan Knott. “Bold action and creative approaches like Sue Big Oil are needed to begin to address these challenges. I support this action because I believe that the big oil companies should be held accountable in sharing these costs with the communities that are their customers.”

“West Kootenays residents face wildfire threats every summer now, and the situation is alarmingly getting worse,” said Greg Amos, a volunteer leader with the West Kootenay Sue Big Oil Action Team. “It’s not only Slocan: concerned residents are calling on Nelson, Rossland, and other West Kootenay local governments to demonstrate climate leadership by joining Sue Big Oil too, to help our communities pay for skyrocketing climate change costs.”

The Sue Big Oil campaign has been endorsed by 40 organizations in BC and there are Sue Big Oil volunteer action teams in over a dozen BC communities. The Village of Slocan joins the District of Squamish and the Towns of Gibsons, Qualicum Beach and View Royal in committing to work with other local governments to bring a class action lawsuit against Big Oil. There are over 60 local and state governments bringing similar litigation in the United States.

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