BALTIMORE (WJZ) — Maryland is leading a charge to hold fossil fuel companies accountable under state law relating to climate change.
Maryland Attorney General Brian Frosh led a coalition of attorneys general in filing an amicus brief supporting Baltimore City in its lawsuit, Mayor and City Council of Baltimore v. BP P.L.C. et al., to hold fossil fuel companies accountable under state law for actions they say contribute to climate change and its resulting harms.
The attorneys general argue that all levels of government have a “shared interest” in addressing the impacts of climate change and the district court was correct when it sent the case back to state court.
Baltimore originally filed its case in state court, and the companies removed the suit to federal court in July 2018. Later, in June 2019, the federal district court for the District of Maryland remanded the City’s lawsuit back to state court, rejecting the companies’ argument that federal common law governed the City’s claims.
The companies have appealed that decision to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit.
“The effects of climate change are being felt around the world, but also take a toll at the local level,” said Attorney General Frosh. “The Chesapeake Bay’s sea levels are rising at a rate double the global average, affecting our coastal communities from Smith Island to Baltimore City. And rising temperatures are hitting residents in our urban areas, impacting the health of the elderly, children, and people with preexisting pulmonary conditions. Our states and local government have an undeniable role in protecting our natural resources and the health of our residents from the damage being done by fossil fuel companies.”
The attorneys general argue the district court was right to correct to reject the companies’ statement that the City’s claims are inherently federal-law claims and belong in federal court.
They also say the effects of climate change are felt at the state and local level, and that efforts to address the issues are “essential,”
The attorneys general of California, Connecticut, New Jersey, New York, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont and Washington joined Attorney General Frosh in the coalition.