Trump admin sides with Big Oil in NYC climate suit

Source: Ellen M. Gilmer, E&E News reporter • Posted: Monday, March 11, 2019

The Trump administration is backing Big Oil in a fight over the impacts of climate change, warning that a New York City lawsuit could embarrass the United States on an international stage.

The Justice Department made the argument last night in an amicus brief in the ongoing legal brawl between New York and the biggest oil companies in the world.

The government is urging the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals to toss the city’s claims that BP PLC, Exxon Mobil Corp. and other firms should be financially responsible for climate costs.

Last night’s brief argues that the city’s claims, brought under state nuisance law, are pre-empted by the Clean Air Act, which puts EPA in charge of regulating air pollution.

Further, the brief says, the city’s lawsuit targets fossil fuel production and consumption outside New York — and even outside the United States.

Such “novel and sweeping claims interfere with the conduct of foreign policy and the regulation of foreign commerce,” DOJ lawyers wrote, adding that the claims “have great potential for disruption or embarrassment for the United States in its international relations.”

The brief notes U.S. climate negotiators’ long-standing opposition to the “establishment of liability and compensation schemes” at the international level.

“The City’s claims — which are pled to reach conduct spanning the globe — threaten to conflict with the United States’ foreign policy,” DOJ told the court, “including the balance of national interests struck by the [U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change].”

The federal government filed an amicus brief favoring industry in a similar case in California last year.

The 2nd Circuit is expected to hear arguments in the New York City lawsuit later this year.