Twelve States Ask Court to Dismiss Climate Lawsuit against Big Oil


A dozen states led by Indiana this week filed an amicus brief asking the federal district court in Seattle, Washington to dismiss a climate change lawsuit brought by King County (where Seattle is the county seat) against Chevron, ConocoPhillips, ExxonMobil, and Royal Dutch Shell. King County argues that the companies’ production of fossil fuels contributes to global warming and thus constitutes a “public nuisance” and “trespass” that the court should remedy.
In their amicus brief, the attorneys general of Indiana, Alabama, Arkansas, Colorado, Georgia, Louisiana, Nebraska, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Texas, Utah, and Wisconsin ask the court to dismiss the suit for three main reasons. First, King County’s claims are non-justiciable political questions and would usurp the authority of both the federal government and the states to negotiate and cooperatively determine energy policy.
Second, federal statutes such as the Clean Air Act have displaced the common law remedies King County seeks. Third, King County impermissibly attempts to regulate energy production in other states, which is “contrary to fundamental notions of horizontal federalism.”
My hunch is King County’s climate litigation will go down in flames just like the similar suits brought by Oakland and San Francisco and New York City.