Feb 9, 2022 - Energy & Environment

A busy stretch in climate litigation

Illustration of suited hand with gavel about to hit the oil barrel
Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

There are two important developments this week in closely-watched litigation at the intersection of climate change and the oil industry.

Driving the news, part 1: The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 10th Circuit ruled Tuesday that Boulder county and city officials' litigation against two oil giants belongs back in state court.

  • The local officials are seeking damages for the effects of climate change.

The big picture: The litigation against Exxon and Suncor is among a suite of similar cases brought by various states and cities against oil companies. State courts are generally viewed as more favorable venues for plaintiffs.

Why it matters: "It's the first appellate court to rule on whether the climate nuisance claims should be heard in state or federal court since the Supreme Court ruled that appellate courts could look at all sides of that issue," Korey Silverman-Roati of Columbia University's Sabin Center for Climate Change Law tells Axios.

Driving the news, part 2: The American Petroleum Institute, a big industry group, yesterday appealed a federal judge's recent ruling that scuttled a 2021 federal auction of Gulf of Mexico drilling leases.

  • U.S. District Judge Rudolph Contreras in D.C. had found deficiencies in the Interior Department's Trump-era analysis of carbon emissions linked to the sale.
  • Frank Macchiarola, a senior API official, stated the appeal is meant to "preserve American energy leadership" and ensure the Gulf can "continue to play a critical role in meeting the nation’s energy needs while generating billions in revenue for critical conservation programs."
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