The U.S. Supreme Court has rejected requests by a number of oil companies to block three lawsuits launched against them by state and local governments for their role in climate change.
Bloomberg reports that the oil companies—including BP, Chevron, ConocoPhillips Exxon, Shell, and Phillips 66—had requested that the cases which have been filed in Maryland, Rhode Island, and Colorado, respectively, be moved to federal court. Corporations tend to have a better chance at winning a case at federal court, Bloomberg notes.
However, the Supreme Court judges ruled that this was unnecessary, and let the cases proceed.
The plaintiffs argue that their respective jurisdictions are suffering the effects of climate change, including floods, heat waves, and storms, and the associated higher emergency response costs.
The defendants in the Maryland case argued to the Supreme Court that they will have to incur “duplicative and unrecoverable” litigation costs if the case went forward.
The Supreme Court’s ruling coincided with the start of the trial against Exxon, which New York’s Attorney General has accused of misleading investors about the effect that anti-climate change regulation and climate change itself would affect its profits. Related: Two Dead Following ISIS Attack On Iraqi Oil Field
"Exxon in effect erected a Potemkin village to create the illusion that it had fully considered the risks of future climate change regulation and had factored those risks into its business operations," the prosecution said. "As a result of Exxon's fraud, the company was exposed to far greater risk from climate change regulations than investors were led to believe."
Exxon, for its part, claims that it did not mislead investors and says the lawsuit is motivated by politics rather than anything else.
Last year, a similar case brought by the cities of San Francisco and Oakland against Big Oil ended with a ruling in favour of Big Oil. The judge in charge of the case ruled that there was no conspiracy to suppress facts about climate change.
By Irina Slav for Oilprice.com
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