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New York Dismisses Mayor's Case Against Big Oil

23 July 2018

New York City and Oakland seem to have anticipated that the Clean Air Act would displace their claims based on emissions within the U.S. Both suits also alleged oil companies engage in global oil sales so they're liable for worldwide emissions.

U.S. District Judge John Keenan dismissed the city's claims against ExxonMobil Corp., Chevron Corp., BP Plc, Royal Dutch Shell Plc and ConocoPhillips.

The decision follows a similar ruling from a judge in California, who in June threw out cases filed by San Francisco and Oakland on the grounds that it was unfair to place the blame for global warming harms exclusively on energy companies.

"Climate change is a fact of life, as is not contested by defendants".

"The huge and complicated problem of global warming requires a comprehensive solution that weighs the global benefits of fossil fuel use with the gravity of the impending harms", Keenan wrote in his decision.

"From the moment this baseless lawsuit was filed, manufacturers have argued that the courtroom was not the proper venue to address this global challenge", he said.

The companies won a similar ruling in June that threw out complaints by the cities of San Francisco and Oakland, California.

A federal on Thursday dismissed New York City's lawsuit seeking to make several major oil companies financially responsible for dealing with climate change, saying that the legal effort wasn't permitted under the federal Clean Air Act.

"It does show that Judge Alsup's decision has resonated with at least one other judge, and I wouldn't be surprised if other judges also find the reasoning persuasive", he said.

Judge John Keenan's decision said the claims in the lawsuits, filed under NY state law, are governed by federal common law.

"To litigate such an action for injuries from foreign greenhouse gas emissions in federal court would severely infringe upon the foreign-policy decisions that are squarely within the purview of the political branches of the USA government".

"Judge Keenan got it exactly right", Theodore Boutrous, a lawyer for Chevron, said in a statement. "We intend to appeal this decision and to keep fighting for New Yorkers who will bear the brunt of climate change", he told The New York Times.

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio unveiled the lawsuit in January, claiming that the fossil-fuel industry "knowingly misled the public" about the dangers and risks of climate change in order to "protect their profits".

In his decision, Kennan agreed with the oil companies' argument that federal, rather than state common law governed emissions cases and that emissions regulation was delegated to the Environmental Protection Agency through the Clean Air Act.

"Judge Keenan made that clear in his decision today", said Mr. Timmons in a statement.

Keenan said the lawsuit implicates countless foreign governments and their laws and policies.

New York Dismisses Mayor's Case Against Big Oil