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Major Setback For Climate Litigation Campaign: SCOTUS Rules In Favor Of Energy Companies

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Blog, Independent Petroleum Association of America

Why does Energy In Depth – a research program of the Independent Petroleum Association of America – have a website on climate litigation and the #ExxonKnew campaign? Simple: because these...

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  • May 17, 2021

The Supreme Court of the United States dealt another major blow to the climate litigation campaign on Monday, overwhelmingly siding with energy companies on a procedural question that will impact many of the other state and municipal climate liability cases that have argued they should be heard in state court.

According to the 7-1 decision, the court ruled that the U.S. Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals should have considered all grounds for removal before affirming a lower court’s decision that sent the City of Baltimore’s case back to state court. The Supreme Court’s decision now establishes the precedent that appellate courts must review all the energy companies’ several grounds for removal – not just one lone argument – before affirming or denying any decision permitting a case to move forward at the state or federal court level.

Beyond resolving this in-the-weeds procedural question, the biggest practical impact of this ruling is that Baltimore’s case, and many others like it, will drag on for several more months – if not years – before they’re heard on their merits, as jurisdictional questions will continue to be hashed out.

Meanwhile, the nationally coordinated climate litigation campaign still faces the reality that it has been a failure thus far – every case that has been heard on its merits has been defeated. Further, unlike these lawsuits which will do nothing to address climate change, the energy industry continues to pioneer breakthrough technologies to lower greenhouse gas emissions.

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