WASHINGTON – The state of Minnesota filed a lawsuit Wednesday against the American Petroleum Institute, Exxon Mobil Corp and Koch Industries for what it called a decades-long campaign to mislead the public about climate change.
The lawsuit is the latest in a series of legal challenges by states, cities, and citizen groups targeting fossil fuel companies for their role in global warming.
Attorney General Keith Ellison said the state believed the oil and gas industry’s top lobby group, as well as Exxon and Koch, violated Minnesota laws that prohibit consumer fraud, deceptive business practices and advertising. false.
The complaint alleges that companies and the industry body “devised strategies to mislead the public” about climate science to protect their business interests and accused them of a “multiple deception campaign” carried out in the past 30 years.
“The fraud, misleading advertising, and other violations of Minnesota state law and customary law that the lawsuit shows they perpetrated have damaged the health of Minnesotans and the environment, infrastructure, and economy of our state,” Ellison said.
He said the state has asked a Minnesota district court to require the defendants to fund an educational campaign on climate change and pay for the damage caused by global warming.
The API had no direct comment on the lawsuit, but said the oil industry had been working to provide “affordable and reliable energy to US consumers, while substantially reducing emissions and our environmental footprint.”
“Any suggestion to the contrary is false,” said Paul Afonso, API Legal Director.
Exxon and Koch officials did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
At least 15 other plaintiffs, including states, cities, and youth and citizen groups, have filed similar lawsuits against the oil and gas industry, including Massachusetts, New York, and Rhode Island.
In December, Exxon prevailed in a case brought by New York that accused the largest oil tanker of failing to disclose the financial risks of climate change to investors. (Report by Valerie Volcovici Edited by Marguerita Choy)