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United States District Court for the District of New Jersey
September 8, 2021, Decided; September 8, 2021, Filed
Civil Action No. 20-cv-14243
John Michael Vazquez, U.S.D.J.
This case is one of many similar cases recently filed throughout the United States seeking to hold oil and gas companies accountable for their role in climate change. In this matter, Plaintiff the City of Hoboken ("Plaintiff" or "Hoboken") alleges that Defendants, who are oil and gas companies and related entities, engaged in a decades-long campaign to downplay the effect of fossil fuel usage on climate change. Plaintiff further alleges that it and its residents have been damaged by this conduct through the dire effects of global warming. Presently before the Court is Plaintiff's motion to remand this case to state court, D.E. 94, and Defendants' motion to strike certain portions of Plaintiff's reply brief, D.E. 106. The Court reviewed all the submissions in support and opposition to the motions1 and considered the motions without oral argument pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 78(b) and Local Civil Rule 78.1(b). For the reasons discussed below, Plaintiff's motion to remand is GRANTED and Defendants' motion to strike is DENIED.
I. FACTUAL BACKGROUND 2 AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY
Through [*3] this matter, Hoboken seeks compensation to offset the costs it has and will continue to incur to protect itself from the effects of global warming. Plaintiff contends that Defendants' production, marketing, and sale of fossil fuels has been a "substantial factor" in skyrocketing carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions. Compl. ¶ 42. The rising concentration of CO2 emissions is a driving force in climate change. Id. ¶ 41. And global warming, in turn, is causing climate disruption and damage throughout the world, including in Hoboken. Hoboken is a densely populated urban area located across the Hudson River from New York City. Id. ¶¶ 8, 10, 46. As a result, it is particularly vulnerable to damage from rising sea levels and extreme rainfall events caused by global warming. Id. ¶¶ 45, 225-54. Hoboken has already incurred substantial damage from weather events associated with global warming, including Hurricane Irene and Superstorm Sandy. See id. ¶ 11. Hoboken submits that it will continue to experience extreme weather events, damage from rising sea levels, and other problems associated with global warming. See id. ¶¶ 225-27.
Plaintiff alleges that Defendants have known about and studied the potential [*4] harms from fossil fuel usage since the 1950s. Id. ¶ 75. Despite this knowledge, Defendants decided to prioritize their profits and actively suppressed evidence of the effects of global warming. Id. ¶¶ 75, 107. Beginning in the late 1980s, Exxon's strategy to combat global warming "shifted from trying to understand the impact of fossil fuels on climate change to trying to dispute and conceal their impact. It has continued to employ this strategy through the present day." Id. ¶ 116. To do so, Exxon and other Defendants created front groups with neutral names to promote climate science denial and misinformation campaigns. Id. ¶¶ 118-61. To that end, from 1998 to 2007, "ExxonMobil gave over $20 million to think tanks and organizations that published research and ran campaigns denying climate science." Id. ¶ 159. But while Defendants were engaged in their misinformation campaign, they were actively making business plans that accounted for rising sea levels and warming temperatures due to global warming. Id. ¶¶ 162-71.
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2021 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 169925 *; 51 ELR 20173; 2021 WL 4077541
CITY OF HOBOKEN, Plaintiff, v. EXXON MOBIL CORP., ET AL., Defendants.
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