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9 Feb 2022

Sebastien Malo, Reuters

USA: 10th Circuit hands Boulder's climate lawsuit the home court advantage

A panel of the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for the 10th Circuit disagreed for the second time with defendants Suncor Energy USA Inc and Exxon Mobil Corp that the lawsuit seeking damages to cover the costs of adapting to climate change belongs in federal court, a venue that has proven less favorable to plaintiffs.

Casey Norton, a spokesperson with Irving, Texas-based Exxon, said that lawsuit is "wast(ing) millions of dollars of taxpayer money and do(ing) nothing to advance meaningful actions that reduce the risks of climate change." Canada-based Suncor did not immediately respond to a request for comment...

In Tuesday's ruling, U.S. Circuit Judge Carolyn McHugh in Denver rejected the oil firms' argument that the plaintiffs had made their allegations under state law "to conceal the federal character of their claims in state garb." The panel also rejected the firms' argument that the case is inherently federal because the Clean Air Act displaces state law...

The city of Boulder and San Miguel and Boulder counties filed the case in 2018 saying the oil companies created a public and private nuisance in addition to violating the state's consumer protection act by producing fossil fuels in Colorado and selling them despite knowing their activities threatened the climate...

The case is Boulder County Commissioners v. Suncor Energy USA Inc, U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for the 10th Circuit, No. 19-1330.