Nov 25, 2020 - Energy & Environment

Powerful lobbying groups push back on climate suits

Powerful lobbying groups are throwing their support behind oil companies' efforts to keep climate-related lawsuits against the industry out of state courts.

Driving the news: The U.S. Chamber of Commerce and National Association of Manufacturers, among others, filed amicus briefs this week supporting Big Oil companies in a pending jurisdictional case before the Supreme Court.

Why it matters: Big K Street groups' interest in the case show the stakes of both the narrower technical question at hand, and the wider climate-related claims.

Catch up fast: The case is a jurisdictional tussle about the city of Baltimore's litigation against BP, Exxon and others seeking damages for climate-related harms.

  • But it's also relevant to roughly a dozen similar lawsuits nationwide by local and state officials that plaintiffs want litigated in state courts.

Where it stands: The briefs address the topic at hand: defendants' ability to challenge certain decisions that send cases back to state courts, not federal venues that industry prefers.

  • They also, however, argue that the nature of those specific climate-related damage claims means the cases belong in federal courts.

What they're saying: "This case presents a question of appellate procedure that is important to the Nation’s business community far beyond the specifics of this case," the Chamber's brief states.

  • But it also argues that when it comes to climate, the problem is "inherently global" and should be addressed via the executive and Congress.
  • "[A]d hoc and unpredictable decisions of individual state courts" are not a good idea, they argue.

Go deeper: States and cities scramble to sue oil companies over climate change, via The Washington Post

Go deeper