NACS Presses for Federal Courts to Handle Climate Litigation

The brief is the third following the Supreme Court ruling in bp v. Baltimore.

November 23, 2021

A Judge's Gavel

ALEXANDRIA, Va.—NACS, along with the National Association of Manufacturers, National Association of Truck Stop Operators and the Society of Independent Gasoline Marketers of America, filed a legal brief on November 22, arguing that a climate lawsuit brought by the city of Hoboken, New Jersey, against many of the largest oil companies in the nation should be tried in federal rather than state court.

This is the third brief NACS has filed following the Supreme Court ruling in bp v. Baltimore. The first brief was filed in a case filed by the state of Rhode Island in August 4. The second brief was filed on August 13 in a case brought by the city of Baltimore. All three briefs follow a successful outcome in the case of bp v. Baltimore in which NACS supported the defendants in arguing that it should be easier to move climate change litigation to federal courts.

In the case brought by Hoboken, NACS argued to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 3rd Circuit that the matter should be handled by the federal courts. The case, along with the others in which NACS filed briefs, is part of a coordinated campaign by climate groups to circumvent existing federal court decisions by bringing climate cases in state courts. The cases seek to extract large sums from oil companies due to climate change.

The leading ruling thus far was made by the U.S. Supreme Court in the bp v. Baltimore case. The Court found that federal appeals courts have jurisdiction to examine all of the arguments the litigants made on whether such lawsuits belong in federal or state courts. As NACS had urged, the high court in that matter ruled that the 4th Circuit erred in holding that it lacked jurisdiction to consider all of the defendants’ grounds for removal.

The Hoboken case follows that ruling and, along with the Baltimore and Rhode Island cases, will set the tone for how these cases are handled by the courts moving forward and, relatedly, how much effort environmental groups may continue to put into their legal strategy.