Who Owns The Rain: Lawsuit In California Over PCB Cleanup May Hinge On Monsanto’s Innovative Defense

Here Comes The Rain Again: Monsanto Introduces Novel New Defense In Its Fight Against Cleaning Up PCBs in California

No matter what you think about Monsanto, you have to admit they hire some clever people.

We’re already aware of their clever chemists, who gave us such lasting gifts as Agent Orange, glyphosate, and saccharin. But now we are getting a unique opportunity to witness the awesome power of the company’s legal minds at work.

One question they are pursuing an answer to may sound like something from a freshman philosophy class, or a lyric from a bad pop song, but it could have relevance for millions of California residents: Who owns the rain?


As a lawsuit proceeds over cleaning up after another one of Monsanto’s gifts to humanity, PCBs or polychlorinated biphenyls in California, the company’s attorneys have rolled out a novel new way to attempt to prevent the company from having to pay to clean up its own mess by claiming the cities surrounding the bay have no standing to sue over the Bay’s waters.

PCBs were manufactured in the U.S. almost exclusively by Monsanto starting in 1935 for use in electronics, as coolants and in heat transfer technology until they were banned in 1979 after it was finally proven that they are carcinogenic, endocrine disruptors, cause developmental problems, and are neurotoxins.

And now here we are, nearly four decades later, and municipalities are still embroiled in lawsuits with the company over paying to clean up the waterways they befouled over the decades the substance was legal to manufacture.

And those clever folks on Monsanto’s legal team have come up with a new argument in their fight with the municipalities around the San Francisco Bay over paying to clean up the water there. They have asked the suit to be dismissed because the cities “don’t own the rain” that flows through city pipes and ends up in the bay, which, Monsanto argues, is actually state property.

Thus, according to Monsanto’s chemical-fried logic, would mean that three municipalities with millions of residents living in the vicinity of the San Francisco Bay would have no right to sue the company that knowingly dumped millions of pounds of toxic PCBs into that bay.

“They concealed this information and put profits over these concerns,” said attorney for the three cities Scott Fiske, as he argued that the cities do indeed regulate rainwater as it flows through their cities into the Bay.

“Regulating storm-water is one of the most fundamental functions a city provides,” he added.

There are currently eight cities suing Monsanto over cleaning up its PCB mess in their respective waterways; stay tuned for more clever trickery from their lawyers, ad infinitum. Meanwhile, fish, animals and people continue to absorb and get sickened from these chemicals.

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