Honolulu tells Supreme Court to stay out of climate fight

By Lesley Clark | 05/03/2024 06:43 AM EDT

Communities suing the oil industry to offset the costs of climate change say the cases should “percolate” before coming back to the justices.

The U.S. Supreme Court.

The Supreme Court. Francis Chung/E&E News

Hawaii’s capital is urging the Supreme Court to stay out of a long-running procedural dispute over climate lawsuits that could cost the oil and gas industry billions of dollars.

The Supreme Court brief filed Wednesday by Honolulu comes in response to a petition from the oil industry for the justices to consider a question they repeatedly declined to answer last year: whether federal law prevents dozens of U.S. cities, states and counties from suing Exxon Mobil, Chevron and other oil majors in state court for lying to their customers about the danger of fossil fuels.

Represented by Sher Edling, a San Francisco law firm that backs many of the climate liability lawsuits, the city and county of Honolulu told the Supreme Court that the cases belong in front of state judges, who have jurisdiction over consumer matters.


“There is no reason for the Court to decide the questions presented now, rather than allowing them to percolate in the lower courts,” Honolulu wrote in opposition to the industry’s petition, Sunoco LP v. City and County of Honolulu.