Big Oil suffers pivotal losses in 2 climate cases

E&E News discusses how the O&G industry has suffered pivotal losses in 2 climate cases.

The oil and gas industry lost appeals in two major climate damages cases yesterday brought by cities and counties in California.

A panel from the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals said that attorneys for oil companies failed to show why San Mateo County and Oakland could not pursue state court battles for industry compensation for climate change impacts, such as sea-level rise.

“We hold that the state-law claim for public nuisance does not arise under federal law,” Judge Sandra Ikuta wrote in the Oakland opinion.

At issue were two climate lawsuits brought by a slew of California cities and counties against oil companies like Chevron Corp., Exxon Mobil Corp. and BP PLC.

The cases — which both seek to hold companies financially responsible for misleading the public on climate change consequences — were heard by the same 9th Circuit panel earlier this year. The appeals court was tasked with resolving split decisions from the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California (Climatewire, Feb. 6).

Ikuta, a George W. Bush appointee, and the rest of the three-judge panel affirmed the district court’s 2018 decision to throw the San Mateo case back to a state venue and revived the Oakland climate case for more proceedings in district court after the same bench — but a different judge — scrapped the case that same year.

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