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Big Oil Asks U.S. Supreme Court to Throw Out Honolulu Climate Lawsuit

Oil and gas supermajors, including Exxon and Chevron, petitioned on Wednesday the U.S. Supreme Court to toss a Hawaii Supreme Court decision allowing a climate lawsuit of Honolulu to proceed to trial.

Honolulu sued several major fossil fuel companies in 2020 in the lawsuit ‘City & County of Honolulu v. Sunoco LP’, seeking damages and other relief from fossil fuel companies for alleged conduct that Honolulu contends caused climate change impacts.

In October 2023, the Hawaii Supreme Court denied the oil and gas companies’ motions to dismiss the Honolulu climate case, affirming a lower court’s denial of motions to dismiss.

In this week’s petition to the U.S. Supreme Court, the oil firms argued in a petition for certiorari that pollution is inherently a federal issue and shouldn’t be tried in state courts.

The companies say that the petition in the U.S. Supreme Court now gives the top U.S. court the “ideal opportunity” to address the issue “before the energy industry is threatened with potentially enormous judgments,” a lawyer for the firms told Reuters.

In April last year, the oil companies also turned to the U.S. Supreme Court with a petition for a writ of certiorari, which the top court denied.

The fossil fuel companies had asked the Court to consider whether there was federal jurisdiction over state-law claims seeking redress for injuries allegedly caused by the effects of interstate or transboundary greenhouse gas emissions on the global climate because federal common law necessarily governs such claims.  

The U.S. Supreme Court has also sent back to state courts similar climate lawsuits filed by states and cities and escalated to the Supreme Court by Big Oil.

In one of the latest climate lawsuits, the city of Chicago sued last week the largest oil and gas companies, alleging that Big Oil has lied about the effect on climate of oil, gas, and the derived products. The City of Chicago is suing six oil and gas corporations and their largest trade association “for deceiving Chicago consumers about the climate dangers associated with their products.”

Filed in the Circuit Court of Cook County, the complaint names BP, Chevron, ConocoPhillips, Exxon Mobil, Phillips 66, Shell, and the American Petroleum Institute (API) as defendants.

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By Tsvetana Paraskova for Oilprice.com

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