Supreme Court takes up energy companies’ appeal over Baltimore climate suit


In this news, we discuss the Supreme Court takes up energy companies’ appeal over Baltimore climate suit.

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The United States Supreme Court on Friday agreed to hear an appeal from energy companies such as BP PLC, Chevron Corp, Exxon Mobil Corp and Royal Dutch Shell PLC challenging a lawsuit brought by the city of Baltimore to obtain damages for the impact of global climate change.

Judges will assess whether the lawsuit should be heard in state court as the city prefers or in federal court, which corporate defendants generally view as a more favorable venue. The lawsuit targets 21 US and foreign energy companies that extract, produce, distribute or sell fossil fuels.

The result could affect a dozen similar lawsuits filed by U.S. states, cities and counties, including Rhode Island and New York, seeking to hold those companies accountable for the impact of climate change.

Baltimore and the other jurisdictions seek damages under state law for the damages they claimed to have suffered as a result of climate change, which they attribute in part to the role of corporations in the production of fossil fuels that produce carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases.

The plaintiffs said they had to spend more on infrastructure such as flood control measures to tackle the rise in sea levels caused by global warming. Climate change has melted the ice caps and glaciers on land.

In 2019, the Supreme Court dismissed the companies’ urgent request to stay the Baltimore litigation after a federal judge ruled the case should be heard in state court. In March, the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Richmond, Va., Upheld the judge’s decision.

In the absence of federal legislation in the bitterly divided US Congress targeting climate change, lawsuits are the last ditch effort to force litigation action.

The Supreme Court in a landmark 2007 ruling said carbon dioxide is a pollutant that could be regulated by the Environmental Protection Agency. Under Democratic President Barack Obama, the agency released the world’s first regulations aimed at reducing greenhouse gases. But Congress’ efforts to enact sweeping climate change legislation have failed.

The court took action in the case three days before the start of her new short-term nine-month term following the death of Ruth Bader Ginsburg on September 18. President Donald Trump has appointed Federal Court of Appeal Judge Amy Coney Barrett to replace Ginsburg.

Reporting by Lawrence Hurley; Edited by Will Dunham

Original © Thomson Reuters

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