Solicitor General Supports Climate Accountability Lawsuit, Advocating for State Court Proceedings
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 climate accountability lawsuit filed by the City of Boulder and Boulder County to proceed in Colorado state court. This development is a key victory for climate accountability lawsuits around the U.S.
In 2018, Boulder County, San Miguel County, and the City of Boulder sued ExxonMobil Corporation and Suncor Energy Inc for their decades of misinformation and other contributions to the climate crisis. Citing the already tangible effects of climate change, the communities in question declared that these companies should bear their rightful portion of expenses related to these impacts, so as to avoid placing an undue burden on taxpayers.
Defendant fossil fuel companies sought to transfer the case to federal court soon after the communities had filed their lawsuit in Colorado state court. The federal district court and Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals both concurred that the lawsuit should be continued in state court, in its current form. In light of the Supreme Court's decision in BP v. Baltimore, the Tenth Circuit had to reconsider the questions of jurisdiction raised by the County of Boulder ruling from 2020.
In response to this, the Supreme Court invited Solicitor General Elizabeth Prelogar to file a brief expressing the views of the United States government on whether the case belongs in federal court. In her filing on Thursday, Prelogar supported the state court argument by the Colorado counties.
The Solicitor General's suggestion that the Supreme Court reject the fossil fuel companies' request for certiorari has been welcomed, and it is our hope that the Supreme Court will listen to the advice of the U.S. government and allow this essential climate related litigation to proceed unimpeded.
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. “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
2. “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