Judge sends Oregon climate lawsuit back to state court

By Lesley Clark | 06/13/2024 06:24 AM EDT

Oil industry lawyers have asked the Supreme Court to find that similar cases belong before federal judges, where they are more likely to fail.

Kermic Luster rests in a cooling center at the Oregon Convention Center.

Kermic Luster rests in a cooling center at the Oregon Convention Center on June 27, 2021, in Portland, Oregon, amid a sweltering heat wave. Nathan Howard/Getty Images

A federal judge has delivered another loss to the fossil fuel industry in the fight over who is financially liable for climate disasters, ruling that an Oregon county’s lawsuit against oil and gas companies can be heard in state court.

The Monday ruling by Judge Adrienne Nelson of the U.S. District Court for the District of Oregon is the latest in an unbroken streak of decisions from federal jurists rejecting the oil and gas industry’s attempts to quash similar lawsuits from local governments seeking compensation for the costs of dealing with climate change.

Industry lawyers have brought their efforts all the way to the Supreme Court, which is currently waiting to hear from the Biden administration before deciding whether to get involved in the procedural dispute.


Nelson’s ruling clears the way for Multnomah County’s lawsuit — filed in 2023 on the two-year anniversary of an extreme heat wave that the lawsuit says was caused in part by the fossil fuel industry — to proceed in Oregon court.