Supreme Court Rejects Oil Companies’ Appeal in Climate Change Suit

Municipalities seeking to hold oil companies accountable for climate change may move forward in court, the Supreme Court ruled in late April.

The court rejected five appeals by oil companies in California, Colorado, Hawaii, Maryland, and Rhode Island. They had wanted to argue their cases in state, rather than federal court, where plaintiffs believe the chance for being awarded damages is higher, according to CNBC.

Become a Subscriber

Please purchase a subscription to continue reading this article.

Subscribe Now

“Big Oil companies have been desperate to avoid trials in state courts, where they will be forced to defend their climate lies in front of juries, and today the Supreme Court declined to bail them out,” Richard Wiles, President of the Center for Climate Integrity, told CNBC.

Business groups were disappointed with the court’s decision, wanting climate issues argued at the national or international level, CNBC reported.

“The challenge of our time is developing technologies and public policies so that the world can produce and use energy in ways that are affordable for people and sustainable for the planet. It should not be figuring out how to creatively plead lawsuits that seek to monetize climate change and provide no solutions,” Phil Goldberg, a lawyer with the National Association of Manufacturers’ legal arm, told CNBC.

Companies including BP, Chevron, and Shell had lost in lower courts before reaching the Supreme Court. The lawsuits brought by the cities and municipalities claimed that the carbon emissions produced by the oil companies have harmed their towns.

The Biden administration urged the court to turn away the case.

In 2021, the court ruled for the oil companies in an earlier case on a similar procedural issue. In 2022, in a separate issue, it limited the Environmental Protection Agency’s authority to address climate change under the Clean Air Act.