By Karen Savage
The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals has pressed pause on its earlier decision to return climate liability suits filed by several California municipalities to state court.
In an order issued Tuesday, the appellate court agreed to a request by the fossil fuel companies to halt the cases while they ask the U.S. Supreme Court to review the issue of whether these cases should be heard in state or federal courts.
The cities of Imperial Beach, Richmond, and Santa Cruz, and the counties of Marin, San Mateo, and Santa Cruz filed the suits in state court in 2017, alleging that Chevron, Exxon, Shell, Citgo, ConocoPhillips, and dozens of other fossil fuel companies have known for decades that their products cause climate change, but instead of warning the public, the companies engaged in a public relations campaign to protect their profits. The municipalities are seeking compensation for climate change-related damages.
In a joint statement, Imperial Beach Mayor Serge Dedina, San Mateo County Supervisor Dave Pine, and Marin County Supervisor Kate Sears said they disagreed with the order and the delay in hearing the case has made those damages worse.
“It has been three years since these cases were filed in state court, where they belong. Three years of increasing heat, drought, flooding, fire, and public health impacts on some of our most vulnerable populations—harms that these defendants knew would hit us,” the officials said.
California is currently experiencing some of the largest wildfires in state history. At least seven people have died and hundreds of thousands have been forced out of their homes. At least 530 buildings have been destroyed in San Mateo and Santa Cruz counties alone.
“The danger, and the taxpayer costs to protect our citizens from that danger, are mounting,” municipal officials said. “The defendants say they aren’t doing this to delay the proceedings. We think their actions speak louder than their words.”[Read more…]