Minn. AG: Climate case is a state matter

Source: By Jennifer Hijazi, E&E News reporter • Posted: Sunday, August 30, 2020

Minnesota’s top attorney told a judge last week that his climate lawsuit against Big Oil exclusively raises issues of state law and should be tossed from federal court.

Attorney General Keith Ellison (D) filed a motion to move his climate lawsuit against Exxon Mobil Corp., Koch Industries Inc. and the American Petroleum Institute back to Minnesota’s Ramsey County District Court where the case was originally filed.

The consumer protection suit claims that the companies and industry group misled Minnesota residents about the role fossil fuels play in exacerbating global warming and should have to pay to correct the damage.

“This Court lacks jurisdiction over the subject matter of this case because the State’s claims are solely for violations of state law under state consumer protection and product defect laws,” the motion said. “The Complaint asserts no federal law claims, nor does any claim in the State’s well-pleaded complaint arise under the Constitution, laws, or treaties of the United States.”

Oil companies kicked off a battle over jurisdiction when they removed Ellison’s lawsuit to the U.S. District Court for the District of Minnesota last month, a legal tussle that has played out in the majority of lawsuits seeking to hold industry accountable for allegedly misinforming the public about climate change impacts from fossil fuel use (Climatewire, July 29).

Industry attorneys have tried to argue that the fights raise political questions that should fall to Congress.

Exxon tried unsuccessfully to remove a similar lawsuit led by Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey (D) to federal court last year.

District of Columbia Attorney General Karl Racine (D) told a federal bench last week that his own consumer protection case, filed a day after Ellison’s, also belongs in state court (Climatewire, Aug. 20).