Big Oil Loses Another Key Court Battle

by | Apr 20, 2022 | Climate & Environment, Progress & Solutions

Photo by Zbynek Burival

Big Oil Loses Another Key Court Battle

by | Apr 20, 2022 | Climate & Environment, Progress & Solutions

Photo by Zbynek Burival
A new court ruling is a major victory for California communities seeking their day in court against Big Oil polluters that spent decades lying about their products' role in fueling the climate crisis.

A federal appeals court on April 19th ruled that climate lawsuits filed by a half-dozen California municipalities seeking to hold fossil fuel corporations accountable for damages they knowingly caused should proceed in state court.

The unanimous ruling by a three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit marked the third time this year that a federal appeals court has rejected industry attempts to shift jurisdiction over climate liability lawsuits from state courts to federal court.

As a result of the panel’s decision, the counties of San Mateo, Marin, and Santa Cruz, and the cities of Imperial Beach, Richmond, and Santa Cruz moved one step closer to putting major oil, gas, and coal companies—including ExxonMobil, BP, Chevron, and Shell—on trial for deceiving the public about their role in worsening the greenhouse gas emissions that underlie soaring temperatures, rising sea levels, and increasingly frequent and intense extreme weather disasters.

Earth Rights International praised the ruling, calling it “another loss for Big Oil” and “another win for the communities fighting for climate justice.”

The Center for Climate Integrity echoed that message, adding that “it’s time to make polluters pay.”

“This is another big, but not surprising, loss for the oil and gas majors,” Richard Wiles, president of the Center for Climate Integrity, said in a statement. “Three federal appeals courts have now agreed that their arguments to escape accountability in state court do not pass muster.”

In February, the U.S. Courts of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit handed down a similar ruling in a climate accountability lawsuit filed in Colorado state court by the city and county of Boulder along with San Miguel County.

It marked the first decision on this issue since the U.S. Supreme Court’s 2021 ruling in BP v. Baltimore. Without addressing the merits of the climate lawsuit filed in Maryland state court, the high court last year ordered an expanded review of the fossil fuel industry’s arguments for federal jurisdiction.

Earlier this month, the U.S. Courts of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit ruled that the City of Baltimore’s climate lawsuit belongs in state court—becoming the second federal appeals court to reject Big Oil’s effort to move liability suits filed against them in state court to federal court, where polluting corporations believe they will be more likely to escape accountability.

These recent rulings by federal appeals courts affirm lower court decisions. According to the Center for Climate Integrity, at least 10 federal district courts have ruled that climate liability lawsuits filed in state court belong in state court—a consensus that, as one judge put it, gives industry executives “a batting average of .000.”

Four other federal circuit courts across the country are now considering similar requests for federal jurisdiction advanced by fossil fuel corporations. But as the Center for Climate Integrity has pointed out, “judges aren’t buying Big Oil’s favorite legal argument” for moving climate accountability lawsuits out of state court.

Since 2017, the attorneys general of Connecticut, Delaware, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Rhode Island, Vermont, and the District of Columbia, as well as 20 city and county governments in California, Colorado, Hawaii, Maryland, New Jersey, New York, South Carolina, and Washington have filed lawsuits to hold oil, gas, and coal companies accountable for misleading the public about their contributions to the planetary emergency.

Referring to Tuesday’s decision by the Ninth Circuit, Wiles stressed that “this ruling is a major victory for these California communities seeking their day in court against corporate polluters that spent decades lying about their products’ role in fueling the climate crisis.”

Republished with permission from Common Dreams, by Kenny Stancil

<a href="http://commondreams.org" target="_blank">Common Dreams</a>

Common Dreams

Common Dreams has been providing breaking news & views for the progressive community since 1997. They are independent, non-profit, advertising-free and 100% reader supported.

0 Comments

Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published.

Related Articles

Jun 24 2022

The Need to Make Cities Ready for Climate Change

Efforts like reducing carbon emissions are important to fight climate change, but cities should also be looking at how they can reinforce roads, stabilize electric...
Jun 23 2022

Time to Break Up Monopolies to Prevent Shortages Like Baby Formula

Food experts have warned for years that monopolies make our food supply vulnerable. Now families with babies are paying the price.
Jun 22 2022

Post Roe v. Wade: Senators Propose Ideas to Protect Abortion Access and Clinics on Federal Land

Facing a congressional stalemate, Democratic senators have asked the White House to consider a bevy of executive actions to protect abortion care ahead of an expected...
Jun 20 2022

Indian Boarding Schools: A Dark Lesson in American History

Confronting the harsh legacy of Indian Boarding Schools, the United States has taken steps to establish a Native American Truth and Reconciliation Commission. It’s a...
Jun 18 2022

Federal Court Rejects Trump EPA Glyphosate Decision Because Agency Ignored Cancer and Endangered Species Risks

The court’s ruling held the Trump administration’s 2020 interim registration of glyphosate to be unlawful because “EPA did not adequately consider...
Jun 14 2022

Summer in the City: Using Satellites to Help Combat the Urban Heat Island Effect

Industrial and commercial zones are frequently among the hottest areas, or heat islands, in cities. They typically have fewer trees to cool the air and more pavement...
windmills on green field under white sky during daytime
Jun 06 2022

A New Report Outlines Canada’s Rapid Path for Renewable Energy Transition

The transition would help Canada achieve its global climate commitments, create tens of thousands of new jobs and meet the growing demand for electricity.
Jun 01 2022

The Uvalde Massacre Prompts Canada’s Trudeau to Propose Strict New Gun Laws

Despite evidence that the expiration of the US assault weapons ban in 2004 correlated with a rise in mass shootings, a new ban in the US is not on the negotiating...
May 29 2022

Armed Teachers – An Effective Security Idea or Republican Fever Dream?

Given that there were armed officers present at earlier school massacres the public is understandably right to wonder whether armed teachers can effectively neutralize...
May 28 2022

How States Can Combat the Cancer of Gun Violence

It remains to be seen whether events in Uvalde, Texas will spur Congress into action, but a new report makes it clear that states can play a much bigger role in...
Subscribe for Updates!

Subscribe for Updates!

Join our mailing list to receive the latest news and updates from our team.

You have Successfully Subscribed!

Pin It on Pinterest

Share This