Multi-state lawsuit including Florida aims to block California-led climate litigation

by | May 28, 2024

Florida and 18 other states filed a complaint with the U.S. Supreme Court, arguing that California, Connecticut, Minnesota, New Jersey, and Rhode Island are overstepping their authority by using state laws to hold energy companies accountable for activities beyond their borders.

Florida joined 18 other states last week in filing a complaint with the U.S. Supreme Court against California, Connecticut, Minnesota, New Jersey, and Rhode Island.

The lawsuit contends that the states are overstepping their authority by using state laws to hold energy companies accountable for activities beyond their borders, effectively attempting to regulate the industry on a national scale.

The plaintiffs argue that the actions of the defendant states infringe upon the sovereignty of other states and disrupt national energy policy, contending that they are leveraging state tort laws to seek  penalties, disgorgement, and injunctive relief against energy producers for their contributions to climate change. This, they argue, amounts to an unlawful attempt to impose a “global carbon tax.”

“Defendant States are threatening to weaken our national energy system through tort litigation under their state laws and in their state courts,” the document reads. “This Court has consistently held that lawsuits over interstate air (and water) pollution, including emissions from the use of oil and gas, must be decided under federal law. Application of federal law to these fundamentally interstate matters prevents overreaching States from weaponizing their laws to impose their policy agendas on sister States and ensures that national policy remains sensitive to the interests of the whole Nation.”

The complaint invokes Article III, Section 2 of the U.S. Constitution, which grants the Supreme Court original jurisdiction in cases involving states, and federal stature that provides the Court with exclusive jurisdiction over interstate disputes. The plaintiffs emphasize the significance of the issues at hand, urging the Court to intervene to prevent disruptions to national energy policy and interstate relations.

“California has destroyed itself with reckless and costly Green New Deal policies that have weakened their state and put them on the brink of financial ruin, and I refuse to allow California, and other states like it, to tell Florida how to govern itself, said Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody. “These states are attempting to unconstitutionally legislate across state lines and force their radical policies on other states when people are struggling to buy groceries. Only Congress has the authority to set national energy policy.”

The document also references Supreme Court precedents such as Pennsylvania v. West Virginia and Maryland v. Louisiana, where the Court barred states from imposing regulations that affected interstate energy commerce.

The plaintiffs seek a Supreme Court declaration that the defendant states’ actions are unconstitutional and an injunction to halt the imposition of liability for emissions or energy sales beyond their borders. They argue that the defendant states’ actions could harm the economies of the plaintiff states, increase energy costs, and disrupt critical industries.


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