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For Immediate Release

Contact

Mike Meno, Center for Climate Integrity, mike@climateintegrity.org

Press Release

Texas Supreme Court Rejects Exxon’s Attempt to Intimidate California Communities Seeking Climate Accountability

California Municipalities Are Suing the Oil Giant for Lying About the Danger of their Products and to Make Exxon Pay for the Damages

Ruling is Exxon’s Second Court Loss in Two Weeks
TEXAS -

The Texas Supreme Court handed a major defeat to ExxonMobil today, declining to consider an unusual legal argument the oil giant has made in an attempt to silence and intimidate a group of California municipalities that are seeking to hold Exxon accountable for the cost of climate damages caused by its products. 

Eight California cities and counties are among a growing number of communities that are suing Exxon and other fossil fuel companies to recover billions of dollars in costs related to sea-level rise, wildfires, and other damages caused by the companies’ oil and gas products. The lawsuits cite Exxon’s well-documented campaign to deceive the public about the “catastrophic” climate harms the company’s own scientists told executives decades ago that their oil and gas products would cause. 

Exxon had petitioned Texas courts to let the company use a  state law known as Rule 202 to depose some of the California officials and go on a fishing expedition for internal documents, claiming the California lawsuits violated Texas’s sovereignty and Exxon’s First Amendment rights.  

In 2020, a Texas appeals court rejected Exxon’s request, finding that Texas courts did not have jurisdiction over the California communities. Exxon then petitioned the Texas Supreme Court to hear an appeal of that ruling and consider “potential violations of ExxonMobil’s rights in Texas to exercise its First Amendment privileges.” Today the court denied that request. 

In response, Richard Wiles, president of the Center for Climate Integrity, released the following statement: 

“Exxon’s bizarre legal arguments were a blatant attempt to intimidate and harass critics who dared to hold the company accountable for its climate deception. 

“The First Amendment does not protect companies that lie about the danger of their products. The fact that Texas courts rejected Exxon’s ploy is a reminder that even powerful corporations are not above the law. 

“When polluters lie, make a mess, and stick communities with the bill, those communities deserve their day in court to hold the polluters accountable.” 

The Texas ruling is the latest blow to Exxon’s efforts to escape accountability for the company’s climate deception:  

This is the second court loss for Exxon in the last ten days. On February 8, the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that a climate accountability lawsuit several Colorado communities brought against the oil giant could proceed in Colorado state court. 

That ruling came on the same day that the U.S. House Oversight Committee held a second hearing in its ongoing investigation of Exxon and other fossil fuel companies’ role in spreading climate disinformation. 

Background on lawsuits seeking to hold Big Oil accountable for deceiving the public about climate change: 

Since 2017, the attorneys general of Connecticut, Delaware, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Rhode Island, Vermont, and the District of Columbia, as well as 20 city and county governments in California, Colorado, Hawaii, Maryland, New Jersey, New York, South Carolina, and Washington, have filed lawsuits to hold major oil and gas companies accountable for deceiving the public about their products’ role in climate change.

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The Center for Climate Integrity (CCI) helps cities and states across the country hold corporate polluters accountable for the massive impacts of climate change.

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