A top state court in Delaware partially dismissed a lawsuit the state’s government filed against several of the world’s largest fossil fuel companies over their greenhouse gas emissions and impact on global warming.
Judge Mary Johnston, of the Delaware Superior Court, ruled that the state’s claims seeking damages from Big Oil defendants for alleged injuries stemming from out-of-state or global greenhouse gas emissions and interstate pollution are preempted by the federal Clean Air Act and are, therefore, beyond the limits of state statute. [emphasis, links added]
While other claims can be pursued, the ruling Tuesday significantly diminishes the case’s weight.
“We are pleased with the Delaware Superior Court’s decision holding that the ‘claims in this case seeking damages for injuries resulting from out-of-state or global greenhouse emissions and interstate pollution, are pre-empted by the’ Clean Air Act and ‘beyond the limits of Delaware common law,’ ” Theodore Boutrous, Jr., a lawyer for Chevron, one of the defendants, said in a statement to Fox News Digital.
In addition to the court’s findings that out-of-state emissions were beyond its scope, it further dismissed the state’s claims that oil industry defendants — which include Chevron, ExxonMobil, Shell, BP, ConocoPhillips, the American Petroleum Institute, and dozens of other energy companies — have misrepresented the dangers of their fossil fuel products, including through tactics such as “greenwashing.”
Delaware argued in its original complaint that Big Oil has spearheaded a coordinated “campaign of disinformation and deception” regarding the impact oil and gas production has on climate change.
The state further alleged that the companies have engaged in “greenwashing” by publicly touting their investments in renewable energy projects, like solar arrays and wind farms while ramping up fossil fuel production.
“This Court finds that the State has failed to specifically identify alleged misrepresentations for each individual defendant,” Johnston wrote in her decision Tuesday. “All claims alleging misrepresentations, including ‘greenwashing,’ must be dismissed.”
The ruling found that the state’s claims that the defendants violated the Delaware Consumer Fraud Act by misleading on the impacts of fossil fuel use were barred by the five-year statute of limitations, and additionally cast doubt on the ability of plaintiffs to isolate and measure alleged damages caused by air pollution limited to state-owned property.
The firm has pursued similar litigation on behalf of Minnesota, Rhode Island, New Jersey, New York City, Washington, D.C., San Francisco, Baltimore, Honolulu, and several local governments across the country.
The latest such “climate deception” lawsuit was filed by California in September. Though it is unclear whether Sher Edling is involved in the case, California’s arguments largely mirror those made by the firm in its litigation.
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