U.S. fossils are facing two more major legal challenges, after Minnesota and Washington, DC filed separate lawsuits alleging consumer fraud, deceptive trade practices, and false advertising.
Minnesota is claiming that ExxonMobil, three companies owned by Koch Industries, and the American Petroleum Institute “have harmed Minnesotans’ health and our state’s environment, infrastructure, and economy” by selling and promoting petroleum products known to cause climate change, InsideClimate News reports.
“The defendants deceived, lied and misrepresented the effects of their product to the public,” Attorney General Keith Ellison told media Wednesday. “For 30 years, [they] made misleading statements about climate change.”
“The State seeks to ensure that the parties who have profited from avoiding the consequences and costs of dealing with global warming and its physical, environmental, social, and economic consequences, bear the costs of those impacts, rather than Minnesota taxpayers, residents, or broader segments of the public,” the Minnesota lawsuit says.
ExxonMobil called the Minnesota suit a “politically motivated campaign”, claiming in a statement that “legal proceedings like this waste millions of dollars of taxpayer money and do nothing to advance meaningful actions that reduce the risks of climate change”.
DC Attorney General Karl Racine is taking aim at Exxon, BP, Chevron, and Shell for systematically and intentionally misleading consumers about the role of fossil fuels in “one of the greatest threats facing humanity”, InsideClimate says.
In a statement, Racine said the four defendants “violated the District’s consumer protection law by concealing the fact that using fossil fuels threatens the health of District residents and the environment,” adding that the purpose of the legal action was to “end these disinformation campaigns and to hold these companies accountable for their deceptive practices.”
Those practices violated DC’s consumer protection laws by concealing the role of fossil fuels in increasing emissions and threatening public health and the environment, the lawsuit claims. “Defendants also knew that these increases in greenhouse gas concentrations would increase global temperatures, which would in turn wreak havoc on the planet, causing long-lasting changes in all components of the climate system, resulting in severe, pervasive, and irreversible impacts for people and ecosystems,” the filing states.
InsideClimate News has the details, including responses from the American Petroleum Institute and one of the Koch companies named in the Minnesota lawsuit.