War between the states over climate change laws? 19 GOP attorneys general file complaint with Supreme Court against five anti-oil states

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Nineteen Republican attorneys general, including Alaska’s Attorney General Treg Taylor, filed a complaint on Wednesday with the U.S. Supreme Court, asking the high court to block five Democrat-led states from continuing to wage climate change-related litigation wars against major oil and gas companies in their state courts.

Plaintiffs include the states of Alabama, Alaska, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Iowa, Kansas, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, New Hampshire, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Utah, West Virginia, and Wyoming.

The states being sued are California, Connecticut, Minnesota, New Jersey, and Rhode Island.

The complaint says, in part, that the five states “assert the power to dictate the future of the American energy industry. They hope to do so not by influencing federal legislation or by petitioning federal agencies, but by imposing ruinous liabilities and coercive remedies on energy companies though state tort actions governed by state law in state court.”

The five Democratic-led states have sued oil companies and demanded various payment for allegedly causing tides to rise and storms to intensify, and other disasters the Democrats say are caused by man-made climate change, and not simply because more people live in areas impacted by weather events.

“In essence, Defendant States Want a global carbon tax on the traditional energy industry. Citing fears of a climate catastrophe, they seek massive penalties, disgorgement, and injunctive relief against energy producers based on out-of-state conduct with out-of-state effects. On their view, a small gas station in rural Alabama could owe damages to the people of Minnesota simply for selling a gallon of gas. If Defendant States are right about the substance and reach of state law, their actions imperil access to affordable energy everywhere and inculpate every State and indeed every person on the planet. Consequently, Defendant States threaten not only our system of federalism and equal sovereignty among States, but our basic way of life,” the complaint reads.

This type of war between states can only be decided by the Supreme Court, because no other court in the land is equipped to handle state vs. state litigation. A similar complaint, filed by traditional energy companies themselves, was turned away by the Supreme Court in late April.

Exxon Mobil, Suncor Energy, Chevron and other companies sued the states of Rhode Island, California, Colorado, Hawaii, and Maryland, over their anti-oil policies. Those were heard in lower courts but the Supreme Court turned away those complaints, saying they should be heard in state courts. 

“In the past when States have used state law to dictate interstate energy policy, other States have sued and this Court has acted,” the 19 attorneys general argued. When West Virginia, then the leading producer of natural gas, required gas producers in the state to meet the needs of all local customers before shipping any gas interstate, the Supreme Court allowed the lawsuit brought by Ohio and Pennsylvania against West Virginia.

“And in 1981, this Court considered a ‘functionally indistinguishable’ challenge brought by Maryland and other States against Louisiana. Louisiana’s taxation scheme for natural gas threatened the ‘health, com-fort and Welfare’ of ‘private consumers in each’ plaintiff State through ‘the threatened withdrawal of the gas from the interstate stream’ — ‘a matter of grave public concern,” the attorney wrote, quoting a case from four decades ago.

Those cases involved the same kinds of questions that the high court is intended to resolve, they argued, because “Defendant States are not independent nations with unrestrained sovereignty to do as they please. In our federal system, no state ‘can legislate for or impose its policy upon the other.'”

When controversies arise among sovereigns, the options are either “diplomacy or war,” the attorneys explained, citing supporting cases. “The Constitution changed that. When controversies arise among the States of our Union, their options are to seek a resolution from Congress or from this Court.”

8 COMMENTS

  1. Higher temperatures pushing North from the Easterly equitorial trades meeting Alaska’s cold air mass has caused unusually more cloudiness not allowing sun to reach the land surface causing cooler temperatures and wind for Alaska.
    It’s at the end of May and we have not had 60 degree weather yet, similar to last years cold summer.
    Summarize; Climate change.

  2. This is simple the oil company’s need to stop selling their products in these states and within 2 weeks these states will be willing to do whatever to get energy sources back.
    Then the oil company’s will be in the drivers seat and the cost to these states could be double or triple for energy sources.

  3. Climate change legislation effectively destroys the economy, over time. And the only oil state that has INCREASED production under Biden is Secretary of Interior Deb Haaland home state of New Mexico. Graft and corruption is alive and well in Washington.

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