Energy & Environment

Minnesota sues Exxon, others over climate change

The state of Minnesota sued Exxon Mobil and other players in the oil and gas industry on Wednesday over climate change, claiming they knew about the impacts fossil fuels would have on the environment and misled the public.

Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison (D) filed the suit against Exxon, the American Petroleum Institute (API) and three Koch Industries entities. 

The defendants are accused of making inaccurate statements that were “part of a conspiracy to defraud consumers and the general public, including consumers and the public in Minnesota, about climate change and the role of fossil-fuel products in climate change.”

Ellison’s suit cited scientific evidence allegedly provided to the groups going back as far as the 1950s. 

“By 1965, Defendants and their predecessors-in-interest were aware that the scientific community had found that fossil-fuel products, if used profligately, would cause global warming by the end of the century, and that such global warming would have wide-ranging and costly consequences,” the suit said. 

It also accused them of funding “fraudulent scientific research” in an attempt to create uncertainty. 

Paul Afonso, API’s chief legal officer and senior vice president, told The Hill, however, that the industry has provided “affordable, reliable American energy to U.S. consumers while substantially reducing emissions and our environmental footprint.”

“Any suggestion to the contrary is false,” Afonso said. 

Exxon spokesman Casey Norton told The Hill in a statement that the suit’s claims are “baseless and without merit” and said the company “will continue to invest in efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions while meeting society’s growing demand for energy.”

This is not the first lawsuit accusing Exxon of downplaying the impacts of climate change. 

New York sued the company in 2018, accusing it of deceiving investors, but a judge ruled in Exxon’s favor in December. 

Massachusetts has also sued Exxon over climate change. 

“The record of the past two decades demonstrates that the industry has achieved its goal of providing affordable, reliable American energy to U.S. consumers while substantially reducing emissions and our environmental footprint. Any suggestion to the contrary is false,” Afonso said. 

Updated 3:04 p.m.

Tags ExxonMobil Keith Ellison

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