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The U.S. Supreme Court has tossed the appeal of five international oil giants to have the lawsuits against them filed by San Francisco and Oakland in California courts to be moved to a federal court.
The two cities in California have been suing the oil supermajors ExxonMobil, Chevron, ConocoPhillips, BP, and Shell since 2018, “alleging that the carbon emissions from their fossil fuel production had created an unlawful public nuisance.” The companies have produced and promoted the use of “massive amounts” of fossil fuels, despite being aware that emissions from those fuels “would cause severe and even catastrophic climate change impacts,” the complaints by San Francisco and Oakland allege.
The cities want billions of dollars in damages from the climate change caused by the oil companies.
The oil giants, however, have argued that it is the jurisdiction of a federal court to rule on such lawsuits because emissions cross state borders.
Analysts have said that Big Oil is seeking federal court proceedings in all those climate cases filed by cities as the supermajors are hoping for a more favorable ruling in federal court.
In a ruling on a similar case last month, the Supreme Court sided with the oil firms, ruling that a case brought against 20 oil companies by the city of Baltimore be moved to a federal court in a potentially big win for the defendants.
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Baltimore sued the companies, which include Shell, BP, and Exxon, in 2018 for withholding information from the public about the risks their products carried. The city argued it had suffered damage from climate-change-related events caused by the companies’ business, including rising sea levels and extreme weather.
The defendants, for their part, argued that it would be fairer for such a case to be heard by a federal court. Their request for the case to be moved was denied once by a federal trial judge and was then basically dropped by a federal appeals court, which cited its lack of power to move the case.
By Michael Kern for Oilprice.com
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Michael Kern is a newswriter and editor at Safehaven.com and Oilprice.com,