Maryland judge invites conspiracy claims against American Petroleum Institute

Source: By Lesley Clark, E&E News • Posted: Tuesday, May 21, 2024

Climate liability lawsuits from Annapolis and Anne Arundel County are heading toward trial.

A person paddles their boat through flooding in downtown Annapolis, Maryland.

A person paddles their boat through flooding in downtown Annapolis, Maryland, on Oct. 29, 2021. Maryland has been a longtime leader in climate liability litigation. Susan Walsh/AP

A Maryland judge has released a powerful oil industry association from a lawsuit that could hold it financially accountable for climate change — but left the door open to conspiracy claims against the trade group.

Senior Judge Steven Platt of the Circuit Court for Anne Arundel County last week granted the American Petroleum Institute’s motion to dismiss the complaints against it, while putting climate liability cases from the city of Annapolis and Anne Arundel County on track for trial.

At the same time, Platt gave the Maryland city and county 30 days to revise their lawsuits to make the case that the American Petroleum Institute engaged in conspiracy.

The lawsuits are two out of dozens from local governments nationwide that allege the oil and gas industry should pay up for its role in contributing to rising tides, heat waves and other climate impacts. None of the cases has yet to go to trial.