Washington D.C. argued its climate deception lawsuit against ExxonMobil, BP, Chevron, and Shell belongs in local court, not federal court as the companies requested.
In a motion to remand filed Tuesday in U.S. District Court, D.C. Attorney General Karl Racine said the removal of the suit to federal court by the fossil fuel companies was improper.
“The district’s complaint does not raise any federal claims, and the Superior Court is the appropriate forum for adjudicating the exclusively district law claims brought pursuant to the attorney general’s authority under the Consumer Protection Procedures Act,” the AG’s office wrote in the motion.
In the suit, which was filed in June, Racine alleges the companies knew as early as the 1950s that emissions from their products caused climate change, but instead of warning consumers, they sought to protect their profits. The companies have been shown to have engaged in a decades-long campaign to cast doubt on climate research.
The companies’ alleged deception is a violation of the district’s consumer protection law and does not involve federal claims, the AG’s office contends.
In the motion, the AG’s office also pushed back on a slew of other arguments by the companies, including that the claims arise on federal property, are connected with their operations on the outer continental shelf, and involve actions taken while acting as or under the direction of federal officers.
Fossil fuel companies defendants in climate change-related lawsuits have attempted to use many of those same arguments in suits filed against them by dozens of municipalities across the country. They have tried to have all of them heard in federal court, where they think they have a better chance of success. Thus far, all of those attempts have failed and many of the cases are currently proceeding in state court, where they were initially filed.
Further briefing is expected in the D.C. case and the court will likely hear oral arguments later this year.