The Supreme Court is asking the Biden administration to weigh in on the city of Honolulu's lawsuit against oil and gas companies for allegedly covering up evidence of their products' contributions to climate change.

In an order Monday, the court invited Solicitor General Elizabeth Prelogar to file a brief outlining the administration's views on whether a challenge to the city's lawsuit should be taken up by the high court.

A group of major oil companies, including BP America, ConocoPhillips, Chevron, ExxonMobil, Sunoco and Shell, in February were among the companies asking the court to consider the case after Hawaii's Supreme Court in October ruled the city's lawsuit could proceed.

In their request for review, the energy companies argued that the federal Clean Air Act puts claims of broad environmental impacts under the federal courts system and precludes individual states and local governments from filing their own lawsuits.

Attorneys for Honolulu, however, argue the case isn't about environmental regulations, but focuses on the companies' "deceptive commercial practices."

The city said energy companies misled consumers about the impact of using their products. Such claims "fall squarely within the core interests and historic powers of the states," the city said.

"As the Hawaii Supreme Court explained, petitioners mischaracterize the complaint as seeking to regulate pollution," attorneys for the city wrote. "This suit does not request relief for 'all effects of climate change,' but 'only for the effects of climate change allegedly caused by (petitioners') breach of Hawaii law regarding failures to disclose, failures to warn, and deceptive promotion.'"

The city said the court should at least allow the case to move forward as the justices will have other opportunities to weigh in as it moves through the courts.

Several states are moving ahead with legal efforts to obtain climate-related financial damages from fossil fuel companies. Vermont last week became the first state to adopt a law requiring energy companies to pay such damages.

Because of this, groups such as the American Petroleum Institute, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and National Association of Manufacturers have filed their own briefs in the case in support of the energy companies' position.

"The lower court's ruling provides a playbook for people seeking to abrogate this court's authority," NAM said in its filing. "Merely pasting state law labels on federal law claims should not be a means for usurping federal authority."

This content was created by Oil Price Information Service, which is operated by Dow Jones & Co. OPIS is run independently from Dow Jones Newswires and The Wall Street Journal.

--Reporting by Steve Cronin,; Editing by Jeff Barber,

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

06-10-24 1732ET