AG James Fights To Hold Big Polluters Accountable To State And Local Laws

AG James Fights to Hold Big Polluters
Accountable to State and Local Laws

NEW YORK — New York Attorney General Letitia James today joined 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 contributing to climate change and its resulting harms.  In their brief, 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. 

“Polluters are not immune from being held accountable to state laws,” Attorney General James said. “Cities and states are committed to protecting the health and wellbeing of their residents, including fighting against the increasingly devastating impacts of climate change. To that end, we refuse to abdicate our duty and our right to seek legal recourse against those who violate our local and state laws.”

Baltimore originally filed its case in state court, and the companies removed the suit to federal court in July 2018.  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 United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit. 

In their brief supporting the City, the attorneys general argue that the district court was correct to reject the companies’ argument that the City’s claims are inherently federal-law claims and belong in federal court. The attorneys general also argue, among other things, that the effects of climate change often are felt at the state and local level, and that state and local efforts to address the problem are essential.  

Joining Attorney General James in filing the brief are the attorneys general of California, Connecticut, Maryland, New Jersey, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont, and Washington.