Question of Climate Litigation’s Merits Lands on SCOTUS’ Doorstep

American energy companies asked the U.S. Supreme Court last week to overturn a ruling that allowed Honolulu’s climate lawsuit against the industry to move forward. This is the first time the Supreme Court has had the opportunity to tackle the merits of the cases head-on, marking a milestone in the litigation campaign.

Energy companies have twice previously sought SCOTUS’s review of legal issues in these lawsuits. While past petitions were related to the jurisdictional question of where the cases belong (state vs. federal court), Wednesday’s petition for certiorari asks the Court to determine whether federal law prevents these cases to be heard in the first place.

The defendants are challenging a Hawaii Supreme Court decision affirming a trial court’s denial of motions to dismiss Honolulu’s lawsuit in October, allowing the case to proceed to trial. The companies argue the federal Clean Air Act preempts state law and ask the Supreme Court to “review and clarify” if state law can be used to impose repercussions for damages from the global issue of climate change.

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