19 states ask Supreme Court to topple climate lawsuits

Source: By Lesley Clark, E&E News • Posted: Thursday, May 23, 2024

Republican attorneys general are invoking the justices’ exclusive jurisdiction in legal battles between states.

The U.S. Supreme Court building is pictured.

The U.S. Supreme Court. Francis Chung/POLITICO

Opponents of climate lawsuits against the oil and gas industry are trying a new strategy to get the Supreme Court to quash the more than two dozen cases nationwide that could put fossil fuel producers on the hook for billions of dollars.

In a motion filed Wednesday with the high court, 19 Republican state attorneys general argued that the climate liability challenges — which seek to hold the oil industry financially accountable for climate impacts — threaten “our basic way of life.”

The filing pits Alabama and other red states against five Democratic-led states that have sued oil companies to pay up for rising tides, intensifying storms and other disasters worsened by climate change. The approach tees up a battle royale between states — a type of legal fight that can only be decided by the Supreme Court.

A Supreme Court review of the case is not a guarantee. The justices must first grant the states’ motion for leave to file a bill of complaint.