Baltimore Climate Case Against Big Oil Kept in State Court

March 9, 2020

Baltimore Climate Case Against Big Oil Kept in State Court

The city of Baltimore’s lawsuit seeking to hold fossil fuel producers liable for effects linked to climate change will proceed in the state court where it was filed.

A panel of judges from the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals dealt a blow to oil and gas companies, including BP, Chevron, Exxon Mobil and others, when it ruled that it had limited jurisdiction to review the companies’ latest bid to anchor the litigation in federal court. The court agreed with Baltimore that contracts and leases between the industry and the federal government weren’t enough to justify shifting the case to federal court.

Baltimore’s suit against the fossil fuel companies is one of a dozen pending cases targeting the industry for its role in rising global temperatures.

Speaking to Bloomberg Environment, partner Lena Konanova explained, “This holding sets the important precedent that fossil fuel companies cannot use their contractual relationships with the federal government—such as oil and gas leases or fuel supply agreements—as an automatic ticket to federal court.”

The Fourth Circuit also agreed with Baltimore’s assertion that the case focuses not on emissions, but on alleged deception by the industry, finding the suit, “clearly seeks to challenge the promotion and sale of fossil fuel products without warning and abetted by a sophisticated disinformation campaign.”

Konanova noted, “[the court’s] framing informs the public of the enormous stakes and the scope of the alleged misdeeds in this suit.”

Read the full article in Bloomberg Environment.