Honolulu’s climate lawsuit is an existential threat to Big Oil. So they’re buying Republican attorneys general to defend them in court.

by Arielle Samuelson and Emily Atkin, Heated

At the Society of Environmental Journalists conference this year, we heard about a promising legal case that experts believe actually has a real shot at holding the fossil fuel industry accountable for climate change.

City & County of Honolulu v. Sunoco LP is the first climate liability lawsuit against fossil fuel companies to be greenlit for trial, expected later this year. In it, Honolulu accuses several oil and gas giants of misleading its citizens about the environmental consequences of fossil fuels for decades, and seeks financial compensation for past, present, and future damages to the region.

Oil pump oil rig energy industrial machine for petroleum in the sunset background for design

As a trial comes closer, however, we learned that the lawsuit is facing more and more serious obstacles. Most notably, last week, a plethora of fossil fuel-funded groups–including the American Petroleum Institute–filed petitions asking the U.S. Supreme Court to step in and stop the trial from moving forward.

In addition, a whopping 20 Republican state attorneys general also filed a petition asking the Supreme Court to do the same. So it’s not just industry groups: nearly half of the country’s chief legal officers are asking the nation’s top court to intervene in a local government’s climate lawsuit.

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