Supreme Court asks for Biden admin’s views on climate cases

Source: By Lesley Clark, E&E News • Posted: Tuesday, June 11, 2024

The oil industry is asking the justices to stop lawsuits that could force companies to foot the bill for climate disasters.

Solicitor General Elizabeth Prelogar speaks at her confirmation hearing on Capitol Hill.

Solicitor General Elizabeth Prelogar will soon weigh in on the oil industry’s efforts to quash lawsuits that ask fossil fuel companies to pay for climate impacts. Francis Chung/E&E News

The Supreme Court is asking the Biden administration to weigh in on a procedural battle that could end lawsuits from local governments seeking payment from the oil and gas industry for its role in warming the planet.

In a short order issued Monday, the court invited Solicitor General Elizabeth Prelogar to file a brief “expressing the views of the United States” on whether climate liability lawsuits filed by more than two dozen cities, states and counties belong in state or federal court.

The request marks the second time the Supreme Court has asked for the Biden administration’s take on the litigation. Prelogar last March successfully urged the justices to reject an earlier request from the oil industry to move the cases to federal court, where companies believe the lawsuits are more likely to fail.

This time around, industry is challenging a 2023 Hawaii Supreme Court decision that found state courts have jurisdiction over a lawsuit from Honolulu that accuses oil majors of contributing to climate change by deceiving consumers