Solicitor General Recommends Supreme Court Reject Fossil Fuel Companies’ Petition, Allow Climate Accountability Lawsuits to Proceed
On Thursday, the Office of the Solicitor General recommended that the Supreme Court reject Exxon Mobil and Suncor’s petition for certiorari and allow the City of Boulder and Boulder County’s climate accountability lawsuit against the fossil fuel companies to proceed in Colorado state court. The recommendation from the U.S. government is a key development in climate accountability lawsuits being heard throughout the country.
The three Colorado communities that are suing the corporations for damages related to their decades of fossil fuel extraction—which is fueling global heating—and their lies, are Boulder County, San Miguel County, and the City of Boulder. In 2018, they filed the lawsuit with legal support from EarthRights International, the Hannon Law Firm, the Niskanen Center, and other co-counsel. The communities are already experiencing significant climate change impacts, and are demanding that these companies pay their fair share of the costs associated with these impacts so that the costs do not fall disproportionately on taxpayers.
The defendant fossil fuel companies attempted to transfer the case from Colorado state court to federal court shortly after the communities initiated the case. The federal district court and Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals were in agreement that the case should be continued as originally filed in state court. In light of the Supreme Court's ruling in BP v. Baltimore, the Tenth Circuit had to reassess its 2020 ruling in the County of Boulder case with regards to the issue of jurisdiction.
The Solicitor General’s recommendation comes in response to the Supreme Court’s invitation to file a brief expressing the views of the United States government on whether the case belongs in federal court. The Solicitor General, Elizabeth Prelogar, filed an amicus brief urging the high court to deny the petition from ExxonMobil and Suncor Energy, and to allow the case to proceed in state court.
“We are encouraged by the Solicitor General’s recommendation that the Supreme Court decline the fossil fuel companies’ petition for certiorari in this case, and we hope the Supreme Court ultimately follows the U.S. government’s advice and allows this crucial climate litigation to move forward without further delay,” said the communities’ legal team.
0. “Biden Administration Agrees Landmark Climate Case Against Suncor and Exxon Should Stay in Local Courts” City of Boulder, 16 Mar. 2023, https://bouldercolorado.gov/news/biden-administration-agrees-landmark-climate-case-against-suncor-and-exxon-should-stay-local
1. “Biden administration sides with climate lawsuit against fossil fuel companies” The Guardian US, 17 Mar. 2023, https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2023/mar/16/biden-administration-brief-colorado-climate-lawsuit-fossil-fuel-companies
2. “In Reversal of Trump-Era Stance, Biden DOJ Backs Colorado Communities Suing Big Oil” Common Dreams, 17 Mar. 2023, https://www.commondreams.org/news/climate-lawsuits