(Washington) A county in Oregon, in the northwestern United States, announced Thursday to file a lawsuit against several multinational oil companies to claim more than 51 billion dollars from them after the “heat dome” of 2021, an episode extreme and deadly climate.

Multnomah County says carbon pollution caused by the use of fossil fuels generated by these groups played a “significant” role in this event. Companies targeted include ExxonMobil, Shell, Chevron, BP, ConocoPhillips and Total Specialties USA.

The heat dome “is an event directly attributed to the impacts we are seeing on our climate from the actions of fossil fuel groups and their agencies, which have been pushing for decades to deny climate science,” the agency said. AFP county president Jessica Vega Pederson.

The county is seeking $50 million in damages and $1.5 billion for future damage—extreme heat, drought, fires and smoke promising to become more common.

It is also asking companies to put $50 billion into an impact “mitigation fund” to upgrade the county’s infrastructure.

Contacted by AFP, ExxonMobil judged that “this type of complaint continues to waste time and resources and does nothing to respond to climate change”.

Chevron, meanwhile, called out “unsubstantiated allegations” and “counterproductive distractions” in seeking solutions to global warming.

A record-breaking heat wave slammed across the western United States and Canada from late June to mid-July 2021. The resulting death toll was estimated at 1,400 and a temperature of 49.6 degrees Celsius was reported. registered in Lytton, BC.

In an analysis, the World Weather Attribution (WWA), a group of scientists, claims that this dome would have been “virtually impossible” without human-induced climate change, which has made it at least 150 times more likely.

The Multnomah County complaint also names the American Petroleum Institute and the firm McKinsey.

She claims that over three days at the end of June 2021, the county suffered from extreme heat, 69 people died and taxpayer money had to be spent (on water, air conditioners and “cooling centers” notably).

“The heat dome was a direct and foreseeable consequence of the defendants’ decision to sell as many fossil fuel products as they could over the past six decades,” according to the text, which accuses the multinationals of having lied about the harmful effects of their activities.

With this move, Multnomah County joins dozens of cities, counties and states across the country in filing lawsuits against oil groups accusing them of contributing to climate change and fueling misinformation.

This flurry of lawsuits began in 2017. The fossil industry fought hard to avoid state lawsuits, but suffered a setback in May when the Supreme Court declined to entertain appeals in two cases, which allowed the files to follow their course.

These complaints take the example of cases having targeted the big names in tobacco and pharmacy, concerning cigarettes and opiates.

“We’re not saying there’s any new laws or new theories here,” said attorney Roger Worthington, of one of the firms representing the county. “We submit that the defendants broke long-standing laws, and we will prove it to a jury. »

In a high-profile case, a dozen young people accuse the state of Montana of violating their constitutional right to a “clean and healthy environment.”

They are not seeking damages, “only that their government seizes its constitutional responsibility to mitigate the harm caused by its own actions,” according to a lawyer for Our Children’s Trust, one of three charities supporting the plaintiffs.