Chevron Removes Cities’ Environmental Suit Against Gas Companies to District Court

On Friday, Chevron Corp. and Chevron U.S.A. Inc. moved an environmental lawsuit against the company and other gas companies to the District of New Jersey, saying that it concerned federal laws and questions. The complaint was filed by the City of Hoboken, N.J. , in the Superior Court of New Jersey, it alleged that the defendants are liable for “extracting, producing, and selling over 12 percent of the world’s fossil fuels since 1965.” The plaintiffs, reportedly, claimed that petroleum production, under New Jersey laws, is a public nuisance and is considered trespass because of the pollution caused by the product’s use. 

Chevron’s notice of removal argued that the legal action is “completely preempted by federal law” and arises from acts in multiple federal “enclaves,” including the Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act. The defendant also said the case is removable due to the Class Action Fairness Act. 

The defendants in the lawsuit included Chevron, along with Exxon Mobil Corp.; Exxon Mobil Oil Corp; Royal Dutch Shell PLC, Shell Oil Company, BP P.L.C.; BP America Inc.; ConocoPhillips; ConocoPhillips Company; Phillips 66; Phillips 66 Company; and the American Petroleum Institute. 

The filing argued that United States policy has recognized the importance of oil and gas to the country’s economy and security, noting that the Department of Defense is the largest energy consumer in the United States and a leading global user of petroleum fields. It stated that “every Administration since that of Franklin D. Roosevelt has taken active steps to increase U.S. oil production,” despite risks of global climate change.

Chevron further said that the claims from Hoboken “depend” on the defendant’s production and sale of oil and gas, but that the product only emits harmful gasses when used by a consumer, thus the defendants are not directly causing the nuisance or trespass. The company continued stating that the claims are not limited to the city or to New Jersey, but surround the defendants’ global activities. 

The plaintiffs, according to the defendant’s notice, also use fossil fuels and emit CO2, but still asked the court to stop production of oil and gas by requiring the defendants to pay for damages and enter an injunction against the companies. 

The notice said, “the federal issues and implications of Plaintiff’s Complaint and requests for relief demand resolution by a federal court under federal law. The determination of how best to address global climate change, and the balancing of the costs and benefits of the use of fossil fuels that goes into that equation, has been and should continue to be made by the federal government through federal policies and international cooperation.”

The City of Hoboken is represented by Krovatin Nau. Chevron is represented in the lawsuit by Stern, Kilcullen & Rufolo, LLC and Gibson, Dunn, & Crutcher LLP. Exxon Mobil is represented by Marino Tortorella & Boyle and Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison; Royal Dutch Shell PLC is represented by K&L Gates; BP is represented by Arnold & Porter; ConocoPhillips is represented by Chiesa Shahinian & Giantomasi; Phillips 66 is represented by Gibbons Law; Shell is represented by K&L Gates; and the American Petroleum Institute is represented by Riker Danzig Scherer Hyland & Perretti.