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Anti-Oil Groups Win Big After Supreme Court Allows Lawsuits to Proceed at State Level

Published: April 25, 2023
A man does push ups on a sand berm that was constructed to protect homes from high winter surf with offshore oil rig Esther in the distance during a sunny break from a series of powerful and damaging winter storms that have been passing through the region on March 4, 2023 in Seal Beach, California. (Image: David McNew/Getty Images)

Anti-oil groups are celebrating after the Supreme Court ruled on Monday, April 24 that lawsuits brought against the oil industry by municipalities can proceed at the state level. 

Big Oil strongly favors to battle it out in federal courts where they are most likely to win, but the Supreme Court has denied the industries appeals in five cases, brought forth by cities and municipalities, in five states including, Colorado, Maryland, California, Hawaii and Rhode Island that will now proceed at the state level, something Big Oil dreads. 

Following the ruling, Richard Wiles, president of the environmental group Center for Climate Integrity said that “Big Oil companies have been desperate to avoid trials in state courts, where they will be forced to defend their climate lies in front of juries, and today the Supreme Court declined to bail them out,” CNBC reported. 


Phil Goldberg, a lawyer with the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) said, “The challenge of our time is developing technologies and public policies so that the world can produce and use energy in ways that are affordable for people and sustainable for the planet,” adding that “it should not be figuring out how to creatively plead lawsuits that seek to monetize climate change and provide no solutions.”

The NAM supports hearing cases against Big Oil in federal courts and believes climate lawsuits should be heard either at the national or international levels, not the state level.

It’s expected that allegations about Big Oil’s role in climate change “could be treated under common law claims including public nuisance and consumer protection. At the federal level, there are more limited options to seek climate accountability from the fossil fuel industry,” reported. 

Theodore J. Boutrous, Jr. a lawyer with Gibson, Dunn and Crutcher, told Energy Intelligence, “Climate change is an issue of national and global magnitude that requires a coordinated federal policy response, not a disjointed patchwork of lawsuits in state courts across multiple states,“ adding that, “These wasteful lawsuits in state courts will do nothing to advance global climate solutions, nothing to reduce emissions, and nothing to address climate-related impacts.”