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25 Jan 2022

Rebecca Hersher, NPR

Lawsuit alleging oil companies misled public about climate change moves forward

A federal appeals court in Virginia heard a landmark case ... that seeks to hold major fossil fuel companies accountable for their role in climate change. The court's decision in the case will have implications for a raft of similar cases brought by cities, counties and states across the country.

The case was brought by the city of Baltimore against some of the biggest oil and gas companies in the world, and it hinges on alleged disinformation by the corporations. The Baltimore city government argues that the companies must help pay for the costs of climate change, because they misled the public about how their products contribute to global warming.

... Baltimore was one of the first places to file a lawsuit seeking damages from fossil fuel companies. Since then, numerous cities, including Oakland, Calif., New York, N.Y., Annapolis, Md., Charleston, S.C. and Honolulu, Hawaii have pursued similar suits. So have several states, including Minnesota, Delaware and Rhode Island.

... In his statement on behalf of oil and gas companies, attorney Kannon Shanmugam argued that state court is the wrong place for the lawsuit because climate change is global in scope, and is regulated by the federal government and by international agreements.