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RI Fossil Fuel Lawsuit A State Matter

RI Attorney General Peter F. Neronha.
RI Attorney General Peter F. Neronha.
RI Attorney General Peter F. Neronha has announced the U.S. Supreme Court ruling keeping RI’s climate change fossil fuel lawsuit against fossil fuel companies at the state level, as intended.

PROVIDENCE, RI — In 2018, Rhode Island brought a fossil fuel lawsuit against companies for deception that stymied fossil fuel harm prevention from sea level rise, and the U.S. Supreme Court rules it will stay in state court as intended.

Rhode Island was the first state in the country to bring such a suit, RI Attorney General Peter Neronha’s office noted in its announcement of the decision.

“We filed in state court because that is the traditional and proper forum to hold corporations accountable for deceiving and failing to warn consumers about their products’ dangerous impacts,” Neronha said.

The State’s lawsuit alleges that the companies: created and/or contributed to a public nuisance in the State; failed to adequately warn of the foreseeable risks posed by their products and the consequences of use; undertook a decades-long campaign of deceit in refuting the scientific knowledge generally accepted at the time; failed in their duty to prevent reasonably foreseeable harm that could result from the ordinary use of their products; caused sea level rise; interfered with the use and enjoyment of public trust resources; and violated the State’s Environmental Rights Act by polluting, impairing, and destroying natural resources of the State.

The suit seeks to hold the companies liable for knowingly concealing the fact that use of their products leads to climate change and its catastrophic consequences to the State and its residents, economy, ecosystem, and infrastructure.

In May 2022, the First Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed a federal court decision that ruled Rhode Island’s case be remanded to state court. Several months later, the First Circuit denied fossil fuel companies’ petition for en banc review of the May decision. In December 2022, the fossil fuel companies filed a petition for a writ of certiorari in the United States Supreme Court to which the State responded last February.

The Supreme Court declined to hear the fossil fuel defendants’ petition, and therefore upheld the First Circuit’s decision to place this case back in the Rhode Island state courts.

Rob Borkowski
Author: Rob Borkowski

Rob has worked as reporter and editor for several publications, including The Kent County Daily Times and Coventry Courier, before working for Gatehouse in MA then moving home with Patch Media. Now he's publisher and editor of Contact him at [email protected] with tips, press releases, advertising inquiries, and concerns.

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