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Oil Firms Claim Baltimore’s Climate Lawsuit Threatens US Energy Security – Mother Jones


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Oil Firms Claim Baltimore’s Climate Lawsuit Threatens US Energy Security – Mother Jones


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This story was originally published by the Guardian and is reproduced here as part of the Climate Desk collaboration

US oil firms have been accused of using scare tactics after telling a federal court on Tuesday that lawsuits alleging fossil fuel companies lied about the climate crisis could threaten America’s oil supply.

At a closely watched appeals court hearing to decide whether a lawsuit by the city of Baltimore should be heard in state or federal court, an attorney for BP, Exxon, Shell and other energy firms painted the case as a threat to America’s energy independence.

Kannon Shanmugam, representing the industry, told the court that if the city were to succeed in state court, and win billions of dollars in compensation, that could kill offshore drilling. “The relief that Baltimore seeks would deter, if not render entirely impractical, any further production on the outer continental shelf,” he said.

The outcome of the case may have a bearing on nearly a dozen other lawsuits by states and municipalities.

Karen Sokol, a law professor at Loyola University who specializes in climate litigation, called the claim one of a number of “sterile scare tactics” deployed by the oil industry as it fights to move the Baltimore and other cases out of state jurisdictions, where consumer protection and other laws favor the plaintiffs, and in to federal courts where the fossil fuel companies believe they have the advantage.

“It’s a scare tactic, which is telling the courts to back off, we’re a very powerful industry and we’re essential right now to energy security. If you step into this, you’re going to screw everything up,” she said.

Baltimore’s case accuses oil firms of breaching Maryland state consumer protection and other laws by running disinformation campaigns to cover up what they knew about the dangers of burning fossil fuels.

The outcome of Tuesday’s hearing will influence similar cases within the same federal jurisdiction, including a…



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