Suburban Philadelphia county files climate lawsuit against oil industry

By Lesley Clark | 03/26/2024 06:50 AM EDT

The Bucks County lawsuit is the first climate liability case out of the energy-rich Keystone State.

A Seneca Resources shale gas well drilling site.

A Seneca Resources shale gas well drilling site is seen in St. Marys, Pennsylvania. Keith Srakocic/AP

A county in one of the nation’s leading fossil-fuel-producing states is suing the oil and gas industry, joining a growing number of local governments looking to hold energy producers financially accountable for the effects of climate change.

Bucks County, Pennsylvania, on Monday filed suit against six of the largest U.S. fossil fuel companies and the American Petroleum Institute, accusing the industry of being “substantially responsible for causing and accelerating climate change.”

The lawsuit, one of dozens filed by local governments nationwide, is the first of its kind in Pennsylvania and comes months after a group that supports climate litigation released a report estimating that municipal governments in the Keystone State will need to spend at least $15 billion by 2040 — or nearly $1 billion a year — to protect residents from extreme heat, rising seas, and heavy rain and snow.


Suburban Bucks County is located just north of Philadelphia, far from areas where most of the gas in the state is fracked, but local leaders say their residents are still feeling the industry’s impact.