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8 Feb 2022

Kate Fried, EarthRights International

USA: Appeals court confirms that historic climate lawsuit will proceed in State court

In the first ruling of its kind, the United States Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit ruled today that the historic climate accountability lawsuits filed by Boulder County, San Miguel County, and the City of Boulder will continue to proceed in state, rather than federal, court. This decision sets a precedent for more than two dozen similar cases across the country.

The cases, against oil companies Exxon Mobil and Suncor for their decades of misinformation and other contributions to the climate crisis, had been proceeding in state court following an initial decision from the Tenth Circuit in 2020. Last year, however, the Supreme Court decided in BP v. Baltimore that the appeals court had to take another look at the issues in this case and several other climate accountability cases...

Last month, the Marshall Fire tore through Boulder County, causing unprecedented damage. Colorado has experienced significant warming, increased risk of wildfires and droughts, and reduced snowpack. Experts agree that these impacts are evidence of a climate changed by fossil fuel use. 

“We are pleased with the court’s decision to allow our groundbreaking lawsuit against Exxon and Suncor to proceed here in Colorado,” said Boulder Mayor Aaron Brockett. ”Boulder and Boulder County know all too well the threats climate change poses to our communities. It’s time we make those responsible pay.”...

...“We hope that other courts will follow the Tenth Circuit’s lead, and quickly move to allow these cases to proceed in state court,” said [Marco Simons, General Counsel for EarthRights International, representing the plaintiff communities].