The Progressive


A project of Common Dreams

For Immediate Release

Mike Meno, Center for Climate Integrity,

Supreme Court Asks DOJ to Weigh In On Climate Lawsuits Against Big Oil

President Biden Campaigned on Pledge to "Strategically Support" Such Cases, But Garland-Led DOJ Has Remained Silent, Allowing Trump-era Support of Big Oil to Stand.


U.S. Supreme Court is asking the U.S. Department of Justice to express its position in climate liability lawsuits filed against ExxonMobil and Suncor Energy from a group of Colorado municipalities.

The high court's request today comes after state attorneys general, U.S. Senators, and state lawmakers have all asked Attorney General Merrick Garland and the Justice Department to fulfill President Biden's campaign pledge to "strategically support" climate lawsuits against polluters.

The fossil fuel companies are asking the Supreme Court to overturn a federal appeals court ruling that allowed the Colorado cases to proceed in state court, where they were filed. Five separate federal appeals courts -- the First, Third, Fourth, Ninth, and Tenth -- have all ruled unanimously that climate liability cases filed in state courts should proceed there. During the Trump administration, the Justice Department routinely sided with Big Oil defendants in such cases.

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

"After years of ignoring pleas from state, federal, and local officials for the Justice Department to heed President Biden's campaign pledge to support climate lawsuits against polluters, the administration will finally have to take a stand on these cases. It's time for Attorney General Garland and the Justice Department to get off the sidelines, make good on President Biden's pledges, and support communities in their efforts to hold polluters accountable.

"Doubling down on the department's Trump-era support of Big Oil would constitute a betrayal of A.G. Garland's pledges to support environmental justice and contravene a string of unanimous rulings from five separate circuit courts, which agreed that these cases should proceed in state court."

Background on Climate Accountability Lawsuits and Calls for DOJ Support:

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 corporations accountable for deceiving the public about their products' role in climate change.

President Biden has voiced support for such lawsuits, and as a candidate, he pledged to order the Department of Justice to "strategically support ongoing plaintiff-driven climate litigation against polluters."

Six attorneys general, nine U.S. Senators, and a dozen Delaware state legislators have written letters urging DOJ to reverse the positions it took in support of the fossil fuel defendants during the Trump administration.

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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