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24 Apr 2023

EarthRights International

USA: Supreme Court allows climate change lawsuit against ExxonMobil and Suncor to proceed in state court

"Supreme Court Rejects Big Oil's Bid to Review Landmark Climate Case", 24 Apr 2023

Today, the United States Supreme Court delivered a critical victory to those suffering the harms of the climate crisis. The Court rejected ExxonMobil and Suncor’s petition for certiorari seeking to force three Colorado communities — who sued the companies for their role in the climate crisis and the local impacts the communities suffer — into federal court. The result of the Supreme Court’s denial is that the cases brought by Boulder County, San Miguel County, and the City of Boulder will proceed in Colorado state court.

In June 2022, after the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit decided that the case belonged in state court, the companies sought Supreme Court review on two questions – whether federal common law actually governed the municipalities’ state law tort claims and whether federal courts thus have jurisdiction over the case. With the Supreme Court rejecting their petition, Exxon and Suncor can no longer forestall Colorado state courts’ consideration of the case. The cases will now proceed in the Colorado court system.

The Supreme Court also rejected petitions in four similar climate cases where the fossil fuel companies pressed the same arguments for federal jurisdiction. More than two dozen similar cases were filed in state courts across the country...

EarthRights General Counsel Marco Simons issued the following statement: 

“Since the Colorado communities filed this case in 2018, ExxonMobil and Suncor have consistently sought to delay the litigation—moving the case from court to court and losing each step along the way. Today’s development brings these communities one step closer to holding fossil fuel companies accountable for their misconduct and obtaining remedies for the serious climate harms Colorado residents face.

“Every court that has reviewed this case has come to the same conclusion–that it should be heard in a local court, by a local jury. The Supreme Court’s decision today confirms that. This case is not about changing national climate policy — it’s about accountability for the climate harms in Colorado that companies like Exxon and Suncor are responsible for...”

Learn more about the case here