On Monday, the Supreme Court ultimately decided that it would not hear lawsuits that local governments have brought against energy companies, seeking financial damages.
That’s actually not a good thing for the energy companies, though, as they were hoping the cases would be heard in federal court rather than on the state level, where they expect to not be nearly as successful.
Some local governments are looking to have energy companies be held financially responsible for the burning of fossil fuels they say have contributed to climate change. The companies appealed those cases up to the high court, hoping the justices would determine whether the suits should be tried before federal or state courts.
Many experts have told the Daily Caller News Foundation in the past that the environmental activists who are behind these lawsuits much prefer that the cases remain on the state level. They believe that state-level judges would be much more inclined to rule as they want than federal judges would be.
Energy companies in Rhode Island, Hawaii, California, Maryland and Colorado have all been sued as part of these cases. But, the Supreme Court justices decided they wouldn’t take up their appeal.
Suncor Energy filed a brief as part of its case with Boulder County in Colorado, saying that their suit was “an ideal vehicle for addressing” all questions related to jurisdiction that are before the high court in other cases.
After the Supreme Court handed down its decision, the Manufacturers’ Accountability Project provided a statement to the DCNF. In it, Phil Goldberg, who serves as a special counsel for the organization, said:
“The Supreme Court’s decision to not hear the federal law issues in this case is certainly disappointing because it risks the creation of a patchwork of state court approaches to important public policy matters that are inherently federal and global in nature.”
He added that the decision by the high court doesn’t change the fact that simply selling energy is “not a liability inducing event.”
“[T]oday’s events do not undermine the fact that, even under state law, selling Americans the energy they need and use every day is not a liability inducing event. When courts get to the substance of these claims – just like in New York City’s case that was dismissed in 2021 – it will be evident that this litigation has no legal or factual foundation.”
Elizabeth Prelogar, the U.S. solicitor general, argued on the opposite side to the court. She filed a brief in that case that asked the court to allow the cases to be heard not in federal courts but at the state level.
Many opponents criticized that move, since it was departing from the position that the Biden administration had previously established in the matter.
The high court didn’t give any opinion at all in the matter when it decided not to take up the case. It did, however, say that Justice Samuel Alito didn’t take part in that decision since he owns stock in some oil companies.
It also mentioned that Justice Brett Kavanaugh said he would have granted the energy companies their petition in the case.