By Karen Savage
Four fossil fuel companies told a U.S. District Court in Washington D.C. on Friday that D.C.’s climate fraud case filed against them belongs in federal court, despite rulings to the contrary by multiple federal and appellate courts in similar cases across the country.
ExxonMobil, BP, Chevron and Shell contend thatD.C. attorney general Karl Racine “omitted the language of federal law” from his complaint, which was filed in June, to avoid federal jurisdiction in the case.
Racine alleges the companies knew as early as the 1950s that emissions from their products cause climate change, but violated D.C.’s consumer protection act by engaging in a decades-long campaign to cast doubt on climate research in order to protect their profits.
The companies, which moved D.C.’s case to federal court shortly after it was filed, maintain that Racine is attempting to use D.C.’s consumer protection act “as a vehicle to force defendants to discontinue or reduce their extraction, production, and sale of fossil fuels around the world.”
Racine in August filed a motion to return the case to state court, arguing that while the companies’ alleged deception is a violation of district law, it does not involve federal claims. The companies’ latest filing is in opposition to that motion.
This is the latest skirmish in an ongoing battle over whether D.C.’s case—and dozens of climate change-related cases filed by municipalities across the country—should be heard in state court, where nearly all were filed, or in federal court, where the companies think they have a better chance of winning.
Thus far, the courts have not been persuaded by the companies’ arguments, but the U.S. Supreme Court has agreed to weigh in on a technicality related to the appellate courts’ review of lower court rulings in Baltimore’s liability case. A date for arguments has not yet been set.