Biden administration tells Supreme Court Big Oil climate cases belong in state court

By Clark Mindock

(Reuters) – A lawsuit filed by several Colorado municipalities accusing ExxonMobil Corp and Suncor Energy Inc. of exacerbating climate change belongs in state court, where it was filed, the Biden administration told the colonel on Thursday Court of Justice of the USA with.

The administration asked judges to deny the oil companies’ request to review a February 2022 Court of Appeals ruling that remanded the case to state court, a venue generally considered more favorable to the municipal plaintiffs.

The Denver-based 10th Circuit Court of Circuits dismissed the case after concluding that none of the reasons given by the companies for the change of venue supported giving federal courts jurisdiction.

The issue of venue is a central bone of contention in about two dozen state and local lawsuits filed against major oil companies accused of concealing and misrepresenting the dangers of burning fossil fuels.

The oil companies have denied the allegations by local and state governments, arguing that although the municipalities are making only state claims, the cases clearly raise federal issues.

Marco Simons, an attorney representing Colorado communities at EarthRights International, said they are encouraged by the government’s recommendation.

An Exxon representative said the lawsuits filed by the municipalities “wasted time and resources” and that the company plans to continue the fight in court.

If the Supreme Court decides to do so, the case would give the High Court a second chance to determine whether state or federal courts should hear the lawsuits from states and local governments, including Honolulu, Baltimore and the states of Rhode Island and Delaware.

The Supreme Court first considered the jurisdiction issue in 2021 in a case from the city of Baltimore. It issued a narrow decision directing the US Fourth Circuit Court of Circuits to reconsider the arguments for removal made by the oil companies in this case, but did not directly consider which courts had jurisdiction.

The case is Suncor Energy Inc. et al. v. Board of County Commissioners of Boulder County et al., US Supreme Court, Case No. 21-1550.

For the energy companies: Kannon Shanmugam, Theodore Wells, Daniel Toal and William Marks from Paul Weiss Rifkind Wharton & Garrison, Hugh Gottschalk and Eric Robertson from Wheeler Trigg O’Donnell.

For the communities: Marco Simons, Richard Herz, Michelle Harrison and Sean Powers of EarthRights International, David Bookbinder of the Niskanen Center and Kevin Hannon of the Hannon Law Firm.

For the US Government: Solicitor General Elizabeth Prelogar, Assistant Attorney General Todd Kim and Deputy Solicitor General Malcolm Stewart.

(NOTE: This story has been updated to include comments from representatives of the parties in this case.)

(Reporting by Clark Mindock)


Show More

Related Articles

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Back to top button