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Supreme Court backs major energy companies in Baltimore lawsuit

Supreme Court

The U.S. Supreme Court has ruled in favor of BP PLC, Chevron, ExxonMobil, Royal Dutch Shell, as well as other major energy companies in regards to a lawsuit filed by the city of Baltimore, in Maryland; claiming monetary payments from the companies due to damages caused by climate change, related to its industrial activities.

Firstly, Reuters reported that the ruling from the Supreme Court, came from conservative Justice Neil Gorsuch; he ruled in favor of the companies, as he found a technical legal issue that determines that the case should be heard in a federal court, and not in a state one.

Consequently, the high court ruled that the Richmond, Virginia-based 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals did not correctly analyze whether the case could be heard in federal court. This decision could affect over a dozen of similar lawsuits presented by various states and cities, and also counties.

Secondly, as said above, the lawsuit came after Maryland targeted 21 energy companies, both national and foreign, claiming that its extraction, production and selling of fossil fuels are emitting large portions of carbon dioxide emissions, accelerating the state’s climate change.

Also recommended for you: Northeast Natural Energy introduces electric fracturing to W.Va. Click here to read.

Supreme Court has jurisdiction over GHG emissions crossing state lines

Thirdly, as the city of Baltimore is an important coastal area; it is vulnerable to rising sea levels, and flooding due to climate change, argued the state.

However, the ruling of the high court faced some opposition. As Reuters reports, Liberal Justice Sonia Sotomayor dissented in the ruling. Conservative Justice Samuel Alito, did not participate in the case; as he owns stocks in two oil companies involved in the litigation.

In addition, the high court identified a legal provision that prevents state courts to review decisions of federal jurisdiction. Energy companies argued that the production of energy is inherently a federal issue. Meaning the case should be heard in federal court.

Finally, companies added that greenhouse gas emissions that cross state and international lines are likewise an issue that cannot be addressed under state laws.

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