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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

Ben Geman, author of Generate
Jan 26, 2021 - Politics & Policy

Schumer suggests Biden could use emergency powers for climate policy

Photo: Drew Angerer/Getty Images

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer wants President Biden to explore use of emergency executive powers to fight climate change, he told MSNBC's Rachel Maddow last night.

Driving the news: Schumer said it "might be a good idea for President Biden to call a climate emergency," and noted, "Then he can do many, many things under the emergency powers of the president ... that he could do without legislation."

Bryan Walsh, author of Future
18 mins ago - Technology

Doomsday Clock stays at 100 seconds to midnight

Robert Rosner, left, and Suzet McKinney reveal the 2021 setting of the Doomsday Clock. Photo: Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists/Thomas Gaulkin

In its annual update on Wednesday morning, scientists announced the Doomsday Clock would be kept at 100 seconds to midnight.

Why it matters: The decision to keep the clock hands steady — tied for the closest it has ever been to midnight in the clock's 74-year history — reflects a picture of progress on climate change and politics undercut by growing threats from infectious disease and disruptive technologies.

Ben Geman, author of Generate
3 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Biden to sign major climate orders, setting up clash with oil industry

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

President Biden will sign new executive actions today that provide the clearest signs yet of his climate plans — elevating the issue to a national security priority and kicking off an intense battle with the oil industry.

Driving the news: One move will freeze issuance of new oil-and-gas leases on public lands and waters "to the extent possible," per a White House summary.