Lawmakers urge Justice Department to withdraw legal briefs in support of fossil fuel companies

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WASHINGTON, April 5 -- The attorneys general of five states and the District of Columbia called on President Biden's Justice Department on Monday to withdraw legal briefs in support of fossil fuel companies in litigation during the Trump administration, arguing that they contradict the new President's position on climate change.

The top law enforcement officials of Connecticut, Delaware, Massachusetts, Rhode Island and the District of Columbia sent a letter to the U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland asking him to inform the courts that the Justice Department no longer supports these briefs in pending litigation.

These positions are not only misplaced- as almost all of the courts to consider them have ruled to date- but also directly opposite President Biden's 2020 pledge to support ongoing, plaintiff-driven climate litigation against polluters, the letter said.

The states have filed lawsuits against the oil industry https: www.reuters.com article Climate-change-Advertising-Insight- idUKKBN 28 R 1 OB alleging that companies have violated state consumer protection and deception laws by describing the risks of climate change or greenwashing their image by portraying themselves as part of the solution.

Their lawyers general argue that the fact that the Obama-era amicus briefs are still on record lets oil companies prolong the litigation and argue that cases should be moved to federal courts rather than state courts.

Industry prefers that federal courts weighing these cases because it argues that federal laws preempt any claim under state law that fossil fuel emissions cause climate change and related damages.

The state officials said that those briefs undermine their efforts to hold fossil fuel companies accountable for harms caused in our states- to our consumers, our investors, infrastructure, our natural resources and our real property.

The Justice Department was not immediately available for comment.

The Supreme Court is deliberating a lawsuit filed by the city of Baltimore against energy companies and weighing whether this case and others like it should be heard in a federal court or in a state court. The city is seeking global damages due to the impact of global climate change. It ’ s clear that these are real life situations and that we just need to improve it.

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