Skip to main content

AG Nessel Joins Amicus Brief Supporting Oakland and San Francisco’s Efforts to Hold Big Oil Accountable for Misleading the Public, Worsening the Climate Crisis

LANSING — Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel, joining a multistate coalition of 16 attorneys general led by California, filed an amicus brief in the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals supporting the City of Oakland and the City and County of San Francisco’s efforts to hold major fossil fuel-producing companies accountable for their misleading actions that have worsened the climate crisis. In their consolidated case, City of Oakland v. BP et al., the California municipalities seek to hold fossil fuel companies accountable for misleading the public about the known dangers of fossil fuel combustion and exacerbating the effects of climate change. In the amicus brief, the attorneys general ask the Ninth Circuit to uphold a federal district court ruling and allow the case to proceed in state court.

“Protecting the health and welfare of the people of Michigan is a duty I take very seriously,” Nessel said. “The district court has correctly rejected every basis for federal jurisdiction asserted by these companies. The claims in this case fall well within the traditional areas of state regulation and I stand firmly with my colleagues in asserting that this case belongs in state court.”

Although San Francisco and Oakland originally filed separate cases in state court in September 2017, the cases were removed to federal court and consolidated. The plaintiffs then filed a motion to remand the case to state court, which the federal district court initially denied. The Ninth Circuit reversed on appeal in May 2020, finding that Oakland and San Francisco’s state nuisance claims do not arise under federal law. Subsequently, the federal district court granted the plaintiffs’ renewed motion to remand the cases to state court. The case is currently pending in Ninth Circuit after the oil companies’ November 2022 appeal of the district court’s decision that ruled the suit belongs in state court.

In the amicus brief, the attorneys general argue that:

  • States and municipalities play a vital role in protecting their citizens’ health and welfare from deceptive commercial conduct and environmental harms, including the local effects of climate change.
  • State courts are entrusted with, and uniquely capable of, adjudicating state-law claims, even when state-law claims involve issues of national importance.
  • Plaintiffs’ state-law claims do not raise a substantial issue of federal law, and fossil fuel companies’ contracts with the military do not entitle the companies to federal jurisdiction.

In filing the amicus brief, AG Nessel joined the attorneys general of California, Connecticut, Delaware, the District of Columbia, Hawaii, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, and Washington.

A copy of the brief can be found here (PDF).


Media Contact: