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gop state ags urge scotus to reject hawaii climate change lawsuits targeting fossil fuel companies
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GOP State AGs Urge SCOTUS to Reject Hawaii Climate Change Lawsuits Targeting Fossil Fuel Companies

A group of 20 Republican state attorneys general filed a legal brief on Monday, urging the U.S. Supreme Court to intervene in favor of fossil fuel companies facing civil liability in Hawaii for their alleged role in causing global climate change. In an amicus curiae “friend of the court” brief organized by Republican Alabama Attorney General Steve Marshall, 20 state attorneys general argued that efforts by the City and County of Honolulu to sue dozens of fossil fuel companies are “an affront to the equal sovereignty” of the various other states. The effort is supported by the attorneys general of Alaska, Arkansas, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Texas, Utah, and Wyoming. Fossil fuel companies have faced several lawsuits in Hawaii’s state court system, alleging they have misled the public for decades about the dangers of climate change. In October, the Hawaii state Supreme Court ruled that the lawsuits could proceed, rejecting arguments from the fossil fuel companies that such litigation is preempted by federal law because it seeks to regulate interstate emissions and commerce. In recent weeks, Sunoco LP and Shell PLC have petitioned the Supreme Court to review their case. Now, the amicus brief from the 20 Republican state attorneys general urges the Supreme Court to take up the petition by the fossil fuel companies, arguing their states also have a vested interest in the outcome. The Republican attorneys general note the litigants suing fossil fuel companies through the Hawaii state court system are seeking to stop those fossil fuel companies from promoting the sale and use of their fuel products, even in other states. The attorneys general argue such a ruling from the Hawaiian court system “would imperil access to affordable energy and inculpate every State and every person on the planet.” “If Hawaiians want to rely on solar power, I have no problem with that,” Mr. Marshall said in a Monday press statement. “But Honolulu cannot force its views onto Alabama—or any other State. Major decisions about our national energy policy must be made at the federal level, not dictated by one lawsuit brought by one city in its own courts.” The plaintiffs in the Hawaii cases argue their lawsuits narrowly target harmful marketing practices, the amicus brief from the Republican attorneys general argues the lawsuits in Hawaii are necessarily about interstate emissions. “The case is about more than ’torts committed in Hawaii.‘ If the allegations are true, Honolulu’s injuries stem from ’global warming,‘ global emissions, and the global use of energy and fuel products. As Honolulu admits, ’it is not possible to determine the source of any particular individual molecule of CO2,‘” the amicus brief states. “Thus, the only way for energy companies to avoid potential liability is to cease the production and sale of their products everywhere. And any ’equitable relief, including abatement,’ would need to reach conduct everywhere to redress the alleged injuries.” Several other groups submitted amicus briefs on Monday also supporting the fossil fuel companies and urging the Supreme Court to grant their petition to review the Hawaii state cases. Amicus briefs were filed by the Atlantic Legal Foundation, the American Tort Reform Association, the Washington Legal Foundation, the National Association of Manufacturers, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, and a group of fossil fuel industry associations. Retired U.S. Air Force Gen. Richard Myers and U.S. Navy Adml. Michael Mullin, both of whom served stints as the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, also filed an amicus brief on Monday, arguing the legal case implicates national security. “As federal courts have recognized, petroleum products have been ‘crucial to the national defense,’ including but by no means limited to ‘fuel and diesel oil used in the Navy’s ships; and lubricating oils used for various military machines,’” reads the brief by the two retired U.S. military officers. In response to a request for comment from NTD News, a spokesperson for the City and Council of Honolulu said they will respond to the arguments from the petitioners in court and declined to comment further on the matter. The City and County of Honolulu is expected to file its response by May 1.

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