BP Stock- BP : U.S. Supreme Court backs energy companies over Baltimore in climate case
WASHINGTON, May 17 (Reuters) – The U.S. Supreme Court on
Monday ruled in favor of BP PLC, Chevron Corp,
Exxon Mobil Corp, Royal Dutch Shell PLC and
other energy companies contesting a lawsuit filed by the city of
Baltimore seeking monetary damages from them due to costs caused
by global climate change.
The 7-1 ruling, authored by conservative Justice Neil
Gorsuch, came on a technical legal issue that could help the
companies in their effort to have the case heard in federal
court, as they would prefer, instead of state court, which the
city favors as it is seen as a more amenable venue.
The high court decided that the Richmond, Virginia-based 4th
U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals did not correctly analyze whether
the case could be heard in federal court.
The Democratic-governed Maryland city’s lawsuit targeted 21
U.S. and foreign energy companies that extract, produce,
distribute or sell fossil fuels, arguing that their activities
contribute to emissions of carbon dioxide and other so-called
greenhouse gases linked to climate change. An important port
city, Baltimore noted that it is vulnerable to sea-level rise
and flooding driven by climate change.
The Supreme Court’s ruling could affect around a dozen
similar lawsuits brought by various U.S. states, cities and
Liberal Justice Sonia Sotomayor dissented in the ruling.
Conservative Justice Samuel Alito, did not participate in the
case, likely because he owns stocks in two oil companies
involved in the litigation.
The legal question concerned a provision of U.S. law that
puts limits on appeals courts reviewing decisions by federal
district court judges to remand a case to state court. The
companies have said that in this instance the 4th Circuit had
broad scope to review a district court’s decision because of a
provision that permits appeals of such rulings when a case
directly concerns federal officials or government entities.
The energy companies have argued that energy production is
an inherently federal issue, meaning the case should be heard in
federal court. Greenhouse gas emissions that cross state and
international lines are likewise an issue that cannot be
addressed under state laws, the companies added.
With Congress long divided over action on combating climate
change, the lawsuits represent an effort to force action through
litigation rather than legislation.
(Reporting by Lawrence Hurley; Editing by Will Dunham)