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High court denies energy companies’ appeals in climate suits

Supreme Court Climate Change
Posted at 10:28 AM, Apr 24, 2023

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Supreme Court on Monday rejected appeals from oil and gas companies that are fighting lawsuits from state and local governments over whether they can be held responsible for harms resulting from global warming.

The justices handed the companies a setback in their legal fight with city, county and state governments that want the cases to be heard in state courts, where both sides agree the governments stand a better chance of winning large damage awards. The companies want the cases moved to federal courts.

Monday’s orders from the high court affected cases from California, Colorado, Hawaii, Maryland, Rhode Island. But more than a dozen similar suits are pending in state courts around the country claiming that oil and gas produced by the companies led to greenhouse gas emissions, which contributed to global climate change and caused harm locally.

In 2021, the justices ruled for the companies in an earlier phase of the case that gave them a second shot at persuading appeals courts to order the cases be heard in the federal judicial system. Appeals courts have so far ruled in favor of the governments.

Among the justices, Brett Kavanaugh voted to have the Supreme Court take up the issue. Justice Samuel Alito did not participate, presumably because he holds investments in energy companies.