For Immediate Release

Contact: 

Mike Meno, Center for Climate Integrity, mike@climateintegrity.org or 919-307-6637

The Center for Climate Integrity

Minnesota A.G. Ellison Sues Exxon, Koch Industries for Lying About Climate Change

Ellison Charges ExxonMobil, Koch Industries, and the American Petroleum Institute with Consumer Fraud in Latest Lawsuit Seeking to Hold Fossil Fuel Industry Accountable for Climate Change Deception.

WASHINGTON - Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison today filed a major consumer fraud lawsuit on behalf of the State of Minnesota against ExxonMobil, Koch Industries, and the American Petroleum Institute (API) for their leading role in misleading and deceiving consumers about climate change. 

This is the first lawsuit to target Koch Industries and API for their role in deceiving the public about climate change. In recent years, more than a dozen municipalities, counties, and states have filed either consumer protection or cost recovery lawsuits against Exxon and other fossil fuel companies over their well-documented history of climate change deception and denial and the resulting harms incurred by communities.

Richard Wiles, executive director of the Center for Climate Integrity, released the following statement:

“There are no more worthy targets of a climate fraud lawsuit than Exxon, Koch Industries, and API: the unholy trinity of climate denial.

“While these corporate polluters spread climate disinformation, Minnesota taxpayers got slammed with climate-driven disasters and the rising costs of dealing with them.

“Exxon, Koch, and API are the kingpins of climate denial. Attorney General Ellison should be applauded for having the guts to hold them accountable for their decades of deception and disinformation. As attorney general of a state with strong consumer protection laws, Ellison has enforcement powers that may prove to be Exxon, Koch, and API’s worst nightmare.

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“Minnesota led the nationwide fight against Big Tobacco, and now, by taking on Big Oil for lying about climate change, the state is once again on the right side of history.

“With more than a dozen pending climate change lawsuits, the walls are closing in on the fossil fuel industry. Big Oil knew, Big Oil lied, and in the end Big Oil will have to pay.”

Background on What Makes Minnesota’s Climate Lawsuit Unique:

  • Suing Koch Industries: Minnesota is the first to sue Koch Industries for their decades of lying and deception on climate change. The Koch empire masterminded climate denial through the creation and funding of a vast network of front groups, political operatives, and scientists for hire as documented in the books “Dark Money” by Jane Mayer and “Kochland” by Christopher Leonard.  
  • Consumer protection not common law torts claims: Minnesota is suing under the state’s consumer protection laws, as opposed to “cost recovery” common law torts cases brought by more than a dozen municipalities and the state of Rhode Island. Minnesota is not seeking to recover costs for specific climate damages, but instead seeks to hold Exxon, Koch, and API liable for their decades of lying and fraud regarding climate change. Under Minnesota law, the state does not have to prove that any specific harm or damage resulted from the alleged fraud, only that the fraudulent activity occurred.
  • Disgorgement of profits: Among other remedies, the suit seeks that the court order Exxon and Koch to disgorge all profits made as a result of their unlawful conduct.

A copy of the Minnesota complaint is available here https://payupclimatepolluters.org/uploads/media/MN-OAG-Complaint-v-Exxon-Koch-API-June2020.pdf

A similar consumer protection suit filed against Exxon by Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey last year is now proceeding in state court.

Since 2017, more than a dozen city and county governments in California, Colorado, Hawaii, Maryland, New York, and Washington have gone to court to recover damages caused by the oil and gas industry’s deception about climate change. Learn about those other cases here.

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The Center for Climate Integrity, a project of the Institute for Governance & Sustainable Development, launched in 2017 to educate the public and policymakers about the massive costs of coping with the damage attributable to global warming and to support efforts to make climate polluters pay their fair share.

 

For more information on what ExxonMobil and others in the industry knew about climate change and when, check out the Center for Climate Integrity’s “Smoking Guns” document archive or visit PayUpClimatePolluters.org.

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