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The Attorney General of Minnesota filed a lawsuit against Exxon, the American Petroleum Institute, and Koch Industries, alleging they spent decades deceiving the public about climate change.
The charges, brought against the companies and API by AG Keith Ellison, include fraud, deceptive trade practices, and false statements in advertising, the Minneapolis Star Tribune reports.
“The defendants deceived, lied and misrepresented the effects of their product to the public,” Ellison told media at a news conference. Asked about the size of damages he would be seeking from the court, Ellison said that it would be a lot, adding, in response to another question, that it could be in the ballpark of the $7-billion settlement that the tobacco industry paid Minnesota back in 1998.
“The fraud, deceptive advertising, and other violations of Minnesota state law and common law that the lawsuit shows they perpetrated have harmed Minnesotans’ health and our state’s environment, infrastructure, and economy,” Ellison said, as quoted by Reuters.
The state’s Attorney General added that he had asked the court to make Exxon, Koch Industries, and API pay for an education campaign about climate change in addition to the damages they allegedly caused with their business to the environment.
“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,” Exxon said in a statement, quoted by the Minneapolis Star Tribune.
The American Petroleum Institute said that the oil and gas industry has over the past two decades provided “affordable, reliable American energy to U.S. consumers while substantially reducing emissions and our environmental footprint. Any suggestion to the contrary is false.”
This is the latest in a string of legal challenges to Exxon and other oil and gas companies targeted by states and counties in the U.S. as culprits behind climate change.
By Charles Kennedy for Oilprice.com
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Charles is a writer for Oilprice.com