Maui Council Committee Takes Action on Climate Change Litigation

December 18, 2019, 7:37 AM HST · Updated December 18, 7:37 AM
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Impacts of sea level rise and erosion. PC: Sea Level Rise Vulnerability and Adaption Report.

The Maui County Council Governance, Ethics and Transparency Committee on Tuesday recommended that the full Council approve a resolution to hire special counsel to represent Maui County in litigation against fossil fuel companies.

Maui Mayor Michael Victorino expressed excitement over the action and thanked committee chair Mike Molina for moving the resolution forward.

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Mayor Victorino vowed to hold fossil fuel companies responsible for what he called escalating impacts and costs of climate change and rising sea levels. He said “taxpayers should not be left to pay for the staggering costs related to the impacts of climate change.”

Mayor Victorino released a statement saying, “For almost 50 years, fossil fuel companies knew that carbon dioxide pollution would warm our planet’s air and cause sea levels to rise. Instead of taking corrective action, they covered up the impacts of climate change while protecting their own assets and continuing to rake in profits. Now, they need to pay.”

The proposed resolution would authorize the employment of special counsel, which would be paid on a contingency fee basis. There would be no payment of legal fees unless the litigation is successful for Maui County.

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