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US county sues oil companies for $51 bn over ‘Heat Dome’ disaster

WASHINGTON: A county in the northwestern state of Oregon on Thursday filed a lawsuit against major fossil fuel corporations seeking more than $51 billion over the 2021 “Heat Dome,” one of the United States´ deadliest ever weather disasters. Multnomah County, which encompasses the state´s most populous city Portland, said combined historic carbon pollution from use of the companies´ products — and their decision to mislead the public about their impacts — was a big factor in exacerbating the heatwave.

“This is an event that is directly attributed to the impacts that we are seeing on our climate because of the actions of fossil fuel companies and their agencies that have been pressing for decades to deny climate science,” County Chair Jessica Vega Pederson told AFP.

The county is asking for $50 million in current damages from the Heat Dome, and $1.5 billion for future damages as extreme heat, drought, wildfires, and smoky skies become more common. It also wants $50 billion for a longer term “abatement fund” to upgrade and “climatize” the county´s infrastructure.

The record-breaking heat wave baked the western United States and Canada from late June to mid-July 2021, causing a peak temperature of 121.3 degrees Fahrenheit in Lytton, British Columbia and leading to an estimated 1,400 deaths.

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