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Mayor to sue fossil fuel companies but details sparse on pending action

The Maui News

Maui County Mayor Michael Victorino said Tuesday that he intends to sue fossil fuel companies for the impacts of climate change and rising sea levels in Maui County.

When asked about who the defendants would be, whether the case would be filed in federal or state courts, a timetable for the filing of the suit and what kind of damages the county would be seeking, a county spokesman said he did not have answers to those questions.

Spokesman Brian Perry said the next step is to seek authorization from the County Council on the hiring of a special counsel with expertise in this area of the law. He did not have a cost for the special counsel.

At a news conference Tuesday, Victorino noted that the four main islands of Maui County have more than 200 miles of coastline that are susceptible to sea level rise, and that there have been many wildfires this year, possibly the result of climate change. He said that so far this year brush fires have burned 23,000 acres, six times more than the 4,000 acres burned in all of 2018.

“This lawsuit is about accountability,” he said. “Fossil fuel companies knew — their own experts warned them — about the potentially ‘severe’ or ‘catastrophic’ effects of doing business as usual, and the damage that could be caused by producing, marketing and selling their products.”

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