Republican States Appeal to Supreme Court to Halt Big Oil Climate Lawsuits

19 Republican states have appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court to intervene against Democratic-led lawsuits filed against big oil and gas companies. The lawsuits allege that big oil and gas companies lied to the public about the potential climate harm of fossil fuels. However, Republican states are pushing back, claiming California and other states do not have the authority to dictate the climate policy for the nation. 

Optimism prevails as Republican states challenge climate lawsuits. Although some experts say the challenge is unlikely to succeed, states including Alabama, Florida, and West Virginia are optimistic about their chances. The complaint alleges that five predominantly Democratic states, California, New Jersey, Connecticut, Minnesota, and Rhode Island, are attempting to dictate global emissions and the U.S. energy system. 

Five Democrat-Led States File Against BP, ConocoPhillips, and Exxon Mobil Corp and Other Super Majors

California led the charge in filing the suit, with other Democratic-led states quickly following behind. The civil lawsuit filed in the state supreme court in San Francisco alleges that supermajors such as Shell, Chevron, ExxonMobil BP, and ConocoPhillips should be held responsible for environmental impacts caused by fossil fuels. 

California Governor Gavin Newsom made this statement regarding the climate lawsuits:

“For more than 50 years, Big Oil has been lying to us — covering up the fact that they’ve long known how dangerous the fossil fuels they produce are for our planet. California taxpayers shouldn’t have to foot the bill for billions of dollars in damages — wildfires wiping out entire communities, toxic smoke clogging our air, deadly heat waves, record-breaking droughts parching our wells.”

The 135-page complaint claims that the supermajors have known and hidden the potential climate impacts of burning fossil fuels since the middle of the previous century yet downplayed this impact for their own gain. The suit alleges company scientists knew the extent to which fossil fuels could contribute to issues such as forest fires, severe weather events, and global climate. 

The claim goes on to blame oil and gas companies for a surplus of misinformation throughout the 1970s to discredit climate change scientists and conceal climate concerns from the American people. 

Additionally, the lawsuit seeks to establish a fund that would supposedly be designated to help relieve those impacted by environmental issues, such as natural disasters, severe weather conditions, floods, fires, and other alleged complications brought about by fossil fuels. 

Energy Companies and Republican States Respond

Alabama Attorney General Steve Marshall was quick to respond, announcing the 19-state lawsuit. In a recent statement, Marshall said, “If the Supreme Court lets them continue, California and its allies will imperil access to affordable energy for every American.” 

Alongside Alabama, Republican states joining the complaint to the Supreme Court include: Alaska, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Iowa, Kansas, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, New Hampshire, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Utah, West Virginia, and Wyoming. 

The complaint would prevent states like California and others from pursuing this lawsuit in the Supreme Court, which Republican states claim would harm the American and global energy systems. 

Although energy companies did not immediately respond, they have argued the lawsuit seeks to overstep authority into the commerce and energy sectors, which remain reserved for the federal government’s jurisdiction. 

Why the Challenges May Fail

Despite the 19-state Collective challenge against the Democratic-led lawsuits, some experts are skeptical of the challengers’ viability. As early as last year, the Supreme Court denied similar arguments from ExxonMobil and Chevron. However, the complaint may carry more weight since it stems directly from the state’s Attorney General offices. 

Doug Kysar of Yale University Law School said, “the arguments are almost entirely variations on those that were raised by the fossil fuel industry in their unsuccessful attempts to argue that these suits belong in federal court.” Other legal experts say the Supreme Court is unlikely to take the challengers’ case, given the court has denied similar requests previously, having already seen the arguments. 

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Still, Republican states remain hopeful as the Supreme Court weighs the decision. 


About the author: Jess Henley began his career in client relations for a large manufacturer in Huntsville, Alabama. With several years of leadership under his belt, Jess made the leap to brand communications with Bizwrite, LLC. As a senior copywriter, Jess crafts compelling marketing and PR content with a particular emphasis on global energy markets and professional services.

Tyler Reed

About the author: Tyler Reed began his career in the world of finance managing
a portfolio of municipal bonds at the Bank of New York Mellon. Four years later, he led the Marketing and Business Development team at a high-profile civil engineering firm. He had a focus on energy development in federal, state, and local pursuits. He picked up an Executive MBA from the University of Florida along the way. Following an entrepreneurial spirit, he founded a content writing agency. There, they service marketing agencies, PR firms, and enterprise accounts on a global scale. A sought-after television personality and featured writer in too many leading publications to list, his penchant for research delivers crisp and intelligent prose his audience continually craves.