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New York, City of v. Chevron Corp.

ELR Citation: 51 ELR 20058
Nos. 18-2188, (2d Cir., 04/01/2021)

The Second Circuit affirmed dismissal of a lawsuit seeking damages from oil companies for harms caused by climate change. New York City sued the companies under state tort law to recover damages caused by the companies' legal commercial conduct in producing and selling fossil fuels. The companies moved to dismiss. The district court determined the city's claims were displaced by federal common law because transboundary greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions were a national problem and thus must be governed by a unified federal standard. It further determined the CAA displaced the city's common-law claims with respect to domestic GHG emissions, that such displacement did not resuscitate the city's state-law claims, and that foreign policy concerns foreclosed the city's proposal to recognize a federal common-law cause of action targeting foreign emissions. The appellate court agreed, finding that climate change was an international concern touching on issues of federalism and foreign policy such that it called for application of federal common law, not state law; that the city's claims with respect to domestic GHG emissions were displaced by the CAA; and that while the city's claims with respect to foreign GHG emissions were not displaced by the CAA, prior U.S. Supreme Court rulings and foreign policy concerns barred such claims. It therefore affirmed dismissal of the suit.