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Nineteen States File Federal Lawsuit Over Climate Litigation Against Energy Companies

Nineteen States File Federal Lawsuit Over Climate Litigation Against Energy Companies

May 23, 2024

Nineteen States File Federal Lawsuit Over Climate Litigation Against Energy Companies

In a recent escalation of the legal battles surrounding climate and energy policy, a group of 19 states, led by Alabama Attorney General Steve Marshall, have filed a federal lawsuit against five states—California, Connecticut, Minnesota, New Jersey, and Rhode Island. The lawsuit, filed on May 22, challenges these states’ efforts to hold energy companies liable for "climate change impacts" through state tort law.

The plaintiffs argue that the lawsuits brought by the defendant states seek to regulate the energy industry and enforce a de facto national carbon tax, which they say overreaches state authority and infringes upon constitutional principles of federalism and interstate commerce. In a press release dated May 23, Alabama Attorney General Steve Marshall emphasized the gravity of the issue, stating, “The theory advanced by these states is truly radical: A small gas station in rural Alabama could owe money to the people of Minnesota simply for selling a gallon of gas.”

The plaintiffs contend that such actions violate the horizontal separation of powers and encroach on the federal government's authority over interstate emissions, as established in cases like American Electric Power Co. v. Connecticut. They seek a declaratory judgment that the defendant states’ attempts to impose liability on energy companies for emissions are unconstitutional.

The Supreme Court will have to decide whether to hear the case, which follows an April amicus brief filed by Alabama and 19 other states in support of reviewing a similar lawsuit by the City and County of Honolulu, Hawaii, against the energy industry. The plaintiffs in the current suit claim the defendant states are using their courts to impose their preferred policies on the rest of the nation, threatening access to affordable energy and the balance of state and federal powers.

The outcome of the federal lawsuit could significantly affect the landscape of climate litigation and the tension between state and federal authority. A victory for the plaintiff states could limit the ability of individual states to pursue climate-related legal action, while a win for the defendant states could encourage more state-led efforts to enact further state regulations and increased legal disputes.

Court Filing

Press Release

The Epoch Times Article


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