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AG Curtis Hill: Federal courts must settle whether public-nuisance laws may be used to target energy companies

Tuesday, November 24, 2020

AG Curtis Hill: Federal courts must settle whether public-nuisance laws may be used to target energy companies

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Attorney General Curtis Hill this week filed a brief with the U.S. Supreme Court requesting that federal courts settle the question of whether federal public-nuisance laws may properly be used to target fossil-fuel companies for their alleged role in global climate change.

A federal circuit court previously remanded a case that pits several energy companies against the City of Baltimore back to a Maryland state court, where Baltimore’s mayor and city council had originally filed the lawsuit. But this case involves a claim that necessarily arises under federal common law, Attorney General Hill noted, and therefore the federal district court should have retained jurisdiction over the case.

Twelve other states joined the Indiana-led amicus brief.

Throughout his term in office, Attorney General Hill has consistently sought to convince courts to disallow the use of public-nuisance common law as a means by which to sue fossil-fuel companies for their alleged role in global climate change.

“We all support clean energy and a healthy environment,” Attorney General Hill said. “But we will not obtain these desired results by improperly using centuries-old public-nuisance laws to penalize fossil-fuel companies in an effort to hold them liable for the costs of global climate changes. That would be a simplistic and unsuccessful attempt to solve a complex challenge. It would set back our economy with no discernible benefits in exchange.”

Indiana’s brief is attached.

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