By Karen Savage
Exxon, Chevron, Shell, BP, and ConocoPhillips have asked the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals to reconsider its decision to resuscitate climate lawsuits filed against them by Oakland and San Francisco.
The oil giants say a three-judge panel “overlooked or misapprehended several key issues” relevant to its arguments and “decided them in a manner that conflicts” with its own previous rulings and those of other circuit courts.
“This case should be reheard by the panel or en banc and the district court’s judgment affirmed,” Chevron attorney Ted Boutous wrote in a petition submitted to the court on Wednesday.
Both rehearings (by the same panel of judges) and en banc hearings (by a larger group of the circuit’s judges) are granted only in exceptional circumstances, such as potential errors of law made by the panel or to address the impact of more recent Supreme Court decisions.
Oakland and San Francisco filed suit in California state court against BP, Chevron, ConocoPhillips, ExxonMobil and Shell in 2017, alleging that the companies’ production and marketing of fossil fuels violated public nuisance laws because the companies knew the products’ detrimental effect on the climate and sold them anyway.
The cases were moved to federal court by the companies and later dismissed by U.S. District Court Judge William Alsup.
The three-judge panel reversed Alsup’s decision in May. Because the lower court had initially ruled on only one of the fossil fuel defendants’ several arguments for leaving the cases in federal court, the panel returned the case to district court, instructing Alsup to evaluate those arguments.
An en banc hearing must be approved by a majority of the Ninth Circuit’s 29 judges. If approved, a panel of 11 judges would then review the ruling.