The Progressive


A project of Common Dreams

For Immediate Release

Mike Meno, Center for Climate Integrity,

D.C. Climate Lawsuit Against Big Oil Can Proceed in Local Court, D.C. Circuit Rules

Eight Federal Appeals Courts Have Unanimously Rejected Fossil Fuel Company Attempts to Avoid Trials in State Court

In the latest victory for communities seeking to hold Big Oil companies accountable for climate deception, a federal appeals court has ruled that the District of Columbia’s consumer protection lawsuit against ExxonMobil, BP, Chevron, and Shell can proceed in D.C. Superior Court, where it was filed.

The unanimous ruling, authored by Judge Neomi Rao, makes the D.C. Circuit the eighth federal appeals court in the U.S. to have unanimously rejected fossil fuel industry arguments to avoid facing climate accountability lawsuits in state courts.

The Office of the Attorney General for the District of Columbia filed the lawsuit in 2020, arguing that the oil companies violated D.C.’s consumer protection law by misleading consumers about the role of their fossil fuel products in causing climate change.

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

“Judges from across the ideological spectrum have once again unanimously rejected Big Oil’s desperate arguments to avoid facing the evidence of their climate lies in local courts. It’s time for these companies to give up their losing arguments to escape the courtroom and instead prepare to explain their well-documented history of lying about the dangers of fossil fuels to members of a jury. The people of D.C. deserve their day in court to hold Big Oil accountable.”

Background on Climate Accountability Lawsuits Against Big Oil:

Since 2017, nine attorneys general — in California, Connecticut, Delaware, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Jersey, Rhode Island, Vermont, and the District of Columbia — as well as dozens of municipal governments in California, Colorado, Hawai'i, Maryland, New Jersey, New York, Oregon, South Carolina, and Puerto Rico, have filed lawsuits to hold major oil and gas companies accountable for deceiving the public about their products’ role in climate change.

Eight federal appeals courts — the First, Second, Third, Fourth, Eighth, Ninth, Tenth, and D.C. circuits — and more than a dozen federal district courts have now unanimously ruled against the fossil fuel industry’s arguments to avoid climate accountability trials in state courts. The Supreme Court twice declined to hear fossil fuel industry requests to hear appeals of similar rulings this spring, allowing climate lawsuits in states across the country to proceed toward trial. Earlier this year, California became the eighth U.S. state to take Exxon and other companies to court for climate deception.

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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