Supreme Court seeks US government views on Honolulu climate suit against oil companies

FILE PHOTO: People are pictured at Waikiki Beach in Honolulu, Hawaii August 25, 2015. REUTERS/Marco Garcia

WASHINGTON — The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday asked President Joe Biden’s administration to offer its views on a bid by Sunoco and other oil companies to scuttle a lawsuit by Honolulu accusing them of deceiving the public about climate change.

The request will delay a decision by the justices on whether to hear an appeal filed by the oil companies after Hawaii’s top court let the suit proceed. Other defendants in the lawsuit, which alleges violations of state law, include Exxon Mobil, BP, ConocoPhillips, BHP Group, Marathon Petroleum, Chevron and Shell.

Honolulu has accused them of misleading the public for decades about the dangers of climate change induced by the burning of fossils fuels.

The administration’s legal position will come in a brief filed by the solicitor general, the Justice Department lawyer who represents the federal government before the Supreme Court.

The suit was filed in 2020 by the city and county of Honolulu and the Honolulu Board of Water Supply, a semi-autonomous city agency. The plaintiffs said misleading statements made by the companies about the impact of their fossil fuel products paved the way for property and infrastructure damage caused by human-induced climate change.

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