Several US states have shown their support for Rhode Island in its battle against Shell and 20 other major oil companies by filing an amicus brief before the US Courts of Appeals earlier this month.
Rhode Island had filed its lawsuit against the oil industry back in 2018 before the superior court, requesting that ‘Big Oil’ be held accountable for their responsibility in the climate change crisis.
In their recent brief, the supporting states reiterate Rhode Island’s allegations, that the fossil fuel industry had knowingly been contributing to global greenhouse gas emissions for years and had not only failed to warn the public about the harm of such emissions but further tried to delegitimize climate facts to ensure increasing profits.
One of the main points of contention between the two parties concerns under which jurisdiction the case should be resolved. While the states are pushing for a state court litigation, arguing that the consequences of climate change largely caused by the oil industry, are being felt locally, the defendants believe the appeal belongs in the federal court.
San Francisco based Victor Sher of Sher Edling has been representing Rhode Island in the legal feud, while Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher attorney Ted Boutrous is representing the oil industry. Sher has gained support from several state attorneys including California attorney general Xavier Becerra. Yet, many states, such as Texas and Georgia, have come down on the side of the defendants and are pushing for federal preemption.
Both sides will meet again on February 2nd before the US Courts of Appeals in a new round of discussions, and while the outcome of the dispute is uncertain, Rhode Island is far for being the only state taking action against the fossil fuels industry, with many others also currently fighting the battle against climate change.