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Colorado Communities Move Forward in Lawsuit Against Oil Giants ExxonMobil and Suncor 

June 24, 2024, Boulder, Colorado – Last Friday, June 21, 2024, Boulder County and the City of Boulder successfully defeated motions to dismiss from ExxonMobil Corporation and several Suncor entities in their landmark climate accountability lawsuit, clearing a critical first hurdle in the case. The thorough ruling from the Boulder district court rejected nearly all of the defendants’ legal objections to the suit, and is an important step forward for these and other communities’ ability to obtain redress for the climate harms they are suffering and will continue to suffer.

It has already been a long road for the plaintiffs: the County and City of Boulder filed their case in 2018. For nearly 5 years, they successfully resisted the defendants’ effort to remove the case to federal court, an effort that took them all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court. Last Friday’s ruling marked a significant milestone as the first trial court decision in this case, and notably, it became one of the first climate cases to survive a motion to dismiss.

“Boulder is increasingly burdened by the impacts of an altered climate, and our community cannot keep bearing the costs alone while those responsible avoid paying their fair share,” said City of Boulder City Manager Nuria Rivera-Vandermyde. “This lawsuit is about protecting our community from the impacts of the climate crisis, and the significance of this ruling toward that goal cannot be understated. We hope this will be a step forward for both the Boulder community and for broader climate accountability efforts.”

“The court’s decision reaffirms our stance: we are suffering from the impacts and heavy costs of the climate crisis, right here, right now,” said Boulder County Commissioner Ashley Stolzmann. “Today, we take a meaningful step towards accountability and ensuring our voices and hardships are acknowledged.” 

The thorough 81-page decision rejected the defendants’ central argument that state law is preempted, and that those harmed should be left without legal recourse.  

“Compensating the injured has been the purview of state common law since Colorado’s founding,” said Kevin Hannon, a partner in Singleton Schreiber, LLP, and counsel on the case. “While climate harm is a different context, we are only asking to apply established Colorado common law to hold Exxon and the Suncor entities accountable. It is the defendants who have been asking courts for new legal rules, and we are glad the court rejected that request.”

The decision is also notable for its rejection of defendants’ attempt to recharacterize the case.  

“Since the beginning, defendants have been arguing against a case we did not plead,” said Sean Powers, a Senior Attorney with EarthRights International. “Plaintiffs are not trying to litigate a solution to the climate crisis, they are seeking redress for harms they have suffered and will continue to suffer. The only conduct at issue is defendants’ own: what they knew, when they knew it, and what they did with that knowledge.” 

In addition to EarthRights, the plaintiffs are represented by Kevin Hannon of Singleton Schreiber, LLP and the Law Offices of David Bookbinder.  

EarthRights International (ERI) is a nonprofit non-governmental organization that combines the power of law and the power of people in defense of human rights and the environment, which it defines as “earth rights.” It specializes in fact-finding, legal actions against perpetrators of land rights abuses, training community leaders, and advocacy campaigns. It has offices in Southeast Asia, the United States, and Peru. More information about EarthRights can be found at

Media Contacts: 

Daniela Colaiacovo, EarthRights International 
(703) 975-0608 

Christian Herrmann, Boulder County 
(720) 450-0059 

Layra Nicli, City of Boulder  
(303) 818-4678