Climate Change Grows Teeth: Oil Companies Come Nearer To Accountability

Barry Gander
4 min readApr 25
Picture from People’s World.

The US supreme court on Monday declined to hear bids by major oil companies to move a growing wave of climate lawsuits from state courts to federal courts.

The appeals to move the venue of the lawsuits were made by Exxon Mobil Corp, Suncor Energy Inc and Chevron Corp.

The oil companies were trying to move the law suits to federal court, where they had more influence thanks to Republican politicians who filled the judiciary with their partisans.

The Supreme Court refused to allow the shift to federal court, saying that state and local courts have the right to hear about companies that do business in their jurisdictions.

Even the money that the oil companies made off Putin’s invasion of Ukraine — which jacked up oil prices — will not be enough to cover the potential new environmental costs.

What is on trial — or on trials, in courts across the U.S. and perhaps elsewhere — is the right of local jurisdictions to hold the oil companies accountable for climate change caused by C02 emissions.

The jurisdictions are arguing that the oil companies have known about their impact on global warming back in the 1980’s. Forty years ago Shell researchers wrote a confidential report noting that “‘climate-fuelled migration could swamp borders in the United States, Soviet Union, Europe, and Australia.’ “Conflict would abound,” the document said. “Civilisation could prove a fragile thing.”

Climate change lawsuits against oil companies have thus far been filed by state and local governments in California, Colorado, Delaware, Hawaii, Maryland, New Jersey and Rhode Island. Decisions reached in any of those jurisdictions will quickly affect the others, amplifying the movement.

Joe Biden’s administration urged the justices not to take up the appeal by Exxon and Suncor — a change from the position taken earlier by Donald Trump.

The suits argue that the companies should compensate taxpayers for the increased costs brought on by climate change, such as maintaining roads and fighting forest fires. The dozen municipalities’ lawsuits say they have been harmed by the affects of the climate change caused by carbon emissions stemming…

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Barry Gander

A Canadian from Connecticut: 2 strikes against me! I'm a top writer, looking for the Meaning under the headlines. Follow me on Mastodon @Barry