Climate liability lawsuit to stay in Boulder County

A small twist in the long wrangle between three Colorado jurisdictions and two fossil fuel companies came with a ruling by Boulder District Court Judge Judith LaBuda.

LaBuda on Jan 25, denied the request by Suncor Energy to move the lawsuit filed by Boulder and Boulder County to Denver.

San Miguel County’s lawsuit against Exxon stays in Boulder County—unless, possibly, ExxonMobil wants it moved.

More confusingly, the judge agreed with Suncor that the same claims by San Miguel County need to be moved to another jurisdiction. That said, without ExxonMobil being a party to Suncor’s filing, San Miguel’s case stays in Boulder.

Why does it matter whether the case gets heard in Boulder or Denver, as Suncor prefers? That’s not clear. Residents in both jurisdictions walk in veritable lock-step in their political beliefs.

This is from theBig Pivots, an e-magazine tracking the energy and water transitions in Colorado and beyond. Subscribe at

Suncor operates Colorado’s largest oil refinery, located along Sand Creek northeast of downtown Denver. ExxonMobil is also a defendant.

The April 2018 lawsuit filed by EarthRights International, Niskanen Center and others says that Suncor and ExxonMobil have “known about the consequence of fossil fuel use for more than 50 years, yet they continued to promote and sell their products, while deceiving the public and policymakers about the dangers,” according to a press release issued at the time.

They seek damages to help offset the impacts of climate change “caused by the defendants’ tortious conduct, that have occurred and will occur within their geographic boundaries.”

They estimate $100 million in damages over the next three decades to deal with impacts of climate change caused by products like those made, promoted, and sold by Suncor and Exxon.

Lawsuits by the three Colorado jurisdictions align with those filed elsewhere, primarily California and New York. The difference, obviously, is that it’s in the interior. See 2018 story, “Climate hypocrisy unbridled or something else?”

Photo at top: Suncor Refinery along the banks of Sand Creek north of downtown Denver. Photo/Allen Best 

Allen Best