City of Annapolis v. BP PLC, et al.

Same old accusation — that energy companies willfully hid the ‘harm’ of their products from the public by colluding with skeptic climate scientist ‘shills’ in disinformation campaigns to undercut the “truth” about catastrophic man-caused global warming — different day. The mob of enviro-activists who place all their faith in this accusation never being questioned seem to be oblivious how the more often these Sher Edling law firm boilerplate filings are trumpeted as something new, exciting, and adding to a long list of “Exxon Knew”-style lawsuits, the harder it will be to hide the fatal faults in them.

The only ‘new’ thing about this otherwise worn out state / county / city lawsuits traveling circus act is the amusing spin effort applied to the status of this latest Annapolis v. BP filing which previous ones didn’t get.

Annapolis is the 25th state or local government to file such a lawsuit, the city said.

That number surprised me. Before the city’s announcement, I put the count at only 22 (excluding the PCFFA v. Chevron trade group lawsuit) for the then-current state / local governments number. Add PCFFA, it becomes 23, add Annapolis and it becomes 24. How do the city officials calculate their 25 number?

To answer that, I created a simplified numbered/name-only version of my overall list (excluding the first two dismissed ones while including the PCFFA one) and emailed it to the city’s Public Information Officer to ask which one I missed. She replied that it hada couple of cross-jurisdictional entries … Each of those should be individual/separate.” Well, I put City of Boulder, Boulder County and San Miguel County v. Suncor as one entry because the official filing puts all three as being at the Boulder County District Court. One lawsuit with three plaintiffs filed at one court location = one court case, in my book anyway. Same for City and County of Honolulu, plaintiff singular v. Sunoco being jointly filed at the Circuit Court of the First Circuit State of Hawai’i. However, using the Annapolis Public Information Officer’s line of reasoning, if we consider each plaintiff in the items above to be a separate case, take my sum of 22 current state / local governments, add Boulder County and San Miguel County and County of Honolulu, and you end up with 25 current state / local governments lawsuits.

It’s nice to have my tally independently corroborated that way. Annapolis would then be the 26th, using the Annapolis Public Information Officer’s math. The question now is: what city, country or state is missing from her list?

Nevertheless, 25th sure sounds impressive. When the city website press release stated it, the Maryland Capitol Gazette newspaper picked that right up …. As did a whole bunch of other news outlets. “Merchants of Doubt” book author / documentary movie star Naomi Oreskes did her bit to announce this Annapolis “news” except she seemingly ineptly tweeted a link to a month-earlier development regarding the Baltimore v BP lawsuit. Who knows? She might have had Baltimore on her mind because of her direct association with the Brief Of Amici Curiae for the Baltimore v. BP … and that’s a whole other problematic and potentially self-defeating story for her.

But let’s examine what’s predictably problematic with this filing.

In my most recent November 5, 2020 global warming lawsuit dissection I speculated about how the citizens of Maui might have been flattered to see the otherwise outright copy of the Honolulu lawsuit filing being reapplied to their idyllic island, but might have been insulted at it being just a hand-me-down copy from the distant ancient east coast state of Delaware, where it looks like the words “Delaware” were erased with “Maui” pasted in instead. In this case now, maybe the citizens of Annapolis might fully understand why their hometown’s lawsuit is shared with the lawsuit filed by their 30-or-so-miles-north neighbor Baltimore …….. but do they know they’ve gotten little more than a hand-me-down copy ’n paste filing from some county way out west that’s actually closer to Tokyo than it is to Annapolis?

Maui on the left, Annapolis’ 2/22/21 filing on the right, same Introductory paragraph first sentence and same basic continued text from the online filings’ pages. The shared text passages become much more obvious in the downloaded PDF copies. Purple indicates minor word changes:

In short order, that comparison exercise becomes tedious and really repetitive. Professional examiners with much newer computers and powerful comparison programs could hammer home just how similar each Sher Edling boilerplate lawsuit filing is. Meanwhile, what repetitive ingredients are found within this Annapolis v. BP filing?

✓  Ye olde reference to the ‘leaked’ “reposition global warming as theory rather than fact” memo set, as its best ‘evidence’ to prove the energy industry engaged in disinformation campaigns employing skeptic climate scientist ‘shills.’ Dicey citation of Union of Concerned Scientists source repeated as well, which cascades back to Greenpeace, which itself cascades back to the long forgotten Ozone Action group …. and Ross Gelbspan.
✓  Reference to the ‘leaked’ “victory will be achieved …” memo set, so that it looks like there’s a different set of memos to prove the above insinuation. Dicey citation of innocuous-looking weblink source repeated as well that turns out to be an upload by Kert Davies when he was at Greenpeace.
✓  Reference to the “Black Report” to claim Exxon knew back in 1977-’78 how the polar region temperatures were going to rise. Dicey citation of Kert Davies’ ClimateFiles source repeated as well, along with a repetition of a problematic temperature graph from the Black Report.
✓  Reference to a particular narrative about ‘Big Oil’ bankrolling skeptic climate scientists. Dicey citations of a paper from allegedly ‘bankrolled scientists / the organization distancing itself from one of the scientists repeated as well.

I pointed out many of those faults surrounding the above points in my dissection of Maui v. Sunoco, while I covered the sheer repetition the ‘bankrolled scientists’ passage in the second half my dissection of Delaware v BP. One more item for emphasis here, which I covered in the last bullet point within my dissection of Hoboken v. ExxonMobil and via screencaptures in the second paragraph of my “Inside Track Part 3” post.

✓  Reference to the “Richard Lawson” memo, which does nothing to confirm industry-led disinformation campaigns exist. Dicey citation of Naomi Oreskes’ obscure book chapter about ye olde “reposition global warming” memo set repeated as well.

But wait — what’s a missing ingredient in this Annapolis filing that’s nevertheless seen in the same-state Baltimore filing, in the identical way that the Maui filing didn’t get to have what the Honolulu filing had?

✓  Reference inadvertently illustrating the critically missing words within a speech from President Lyndon Johnson in order to float the unsupportable idea that President Johnson “knew” about man-caused global warming in 1965. Watch this – now you see the missing words 3-dot ellipsis problem in the Baltimore filing ……… and now you don’t in this Annapolis filing.

My dissection of Maui, aided by my Rhode Island dissection, showed how that wipeout with the key words missing from President Johnson’s speech ties straight to Naomi Oreskes. This makes Annapolis the second Sher Edling boilerplate lawsuit filing in a row to drop that passage. There are rumblings out there that Maryland’s Anne Arundel County will be next to file one of these lawsuits. Will it be the third in a row, and what was wrong with that passage sourced from Naomi Oreskes anyway, that it needed to be rewritten?

The better question to ask is, what’s wrong with every one of these lawsuits? Of course, there’s the suspect actions to set up the lawsuits in these jurisdictions, but beyond that the overall problem is quite basic: they claim the science is settled about the conclusion on catastrophic man-caused global warming using material that’s heavily disputed by PhD-level climatologists / atmospheric physicists and other such experts who are skeptical that such a conclusion has any merit. These lawsuits don’t give the time of day, however, to the skeptics; we’re told instead how skeptics are part of industry-orchestrated disinformation campaigns, and to support this, the lawsuits offer a specific pair of ‘leaked industry memos’ sets that were neither solicited nor ever implemented (I repeat, neither solicited* nor ever implemented), along with really dicey citations toward sources that — when examined deeply — only end up pointing a gigantic arrow to the core group of ‘crooked skeptics’ accusation promulgators who take on every appearance of being the only ones pushing outright disinformation in the global warming issue. [*Author’s 5/13/21 note: this is corrected/clarified here]

The 25th state / local government to file such a lawsuit, the city said.” Consolidate the 16 total Sher Edling-led / -assisted lawsuits into one giant lawsuit, lump the 4 Matt Pawa-led copy ‘n paste lawsuits into one and add them together into the 4 independently-led ones and you get arguably 6 lawsuits altogether. Throw a very likely Sher Edling boilerplate Anne Arundel County v. Bunch ’o Energy Companies onto the pile, and the count basically doesn’t change.

How much longer will this traveling lawsuit circus continue before somebody far more influential than me asks, “Is that the best evidence there is? And is there a problem with these sources looking like they are interconnected?

But if somebody major within the defendant side of these lawsuits goes on full unrestricted offense against the evidence offered for the ‘crooked skeptic scientists’ accusation, the lawsuit count could be reduced to zero from all of these being tossed due to insufficient evidence to support the accusation. Even worse, that epic failure could point a giant arrow at the tiny core group of people who’ve floated this worthless accusation for nearly the last 30 years.