California sues big oil for “50 years of deception” over the impacts of fossil fuels

THE STATE of California is suing big oil for “more than 50 years of deception, cover-up, and damage that have cost California taxpayers billions of dollars in health and environmental impacts.”

Governor Gavin Newsom said: “For more than 50 years, big oil has been lying to us – covering up the fact that they’ve long known how dangerous the fossil fuels they produce are for our planet. It has been decades of damage and deception. Wildfires wiping out entire communities, toxic smoke clogging our air, deadly heat waves, record-breaking droughts parching our wells. California taxpayers shouldn’t have to foot the bill. California is taking action to hold big polluters accountable.”

The action by the State of California is just the latest action by citizens against the world’s largest polluter s. There are now more than two dozen US cities and states are now suing big oil on environmental grounds, alleging that the fossil fuel industry knew for decades about the dangers of burning coal, oil and gas, but that it actively hid this information from consumers and investors.

The State of California is suing Exxon, Shell, Chevron, ConocoPhillips, and BP alongside a trade group that promoted disinformation, The American Petroleum Institute.

California Attorney General Bonta said: “Oil and gas companies have privately known the truth for decades – that the burning of fossil fuels leads to climate change – but have fed us lies and mistruths to further their record-breaking profits at the expense of our environment. Enough is enough. With our lawsuit, California becomes the largest geographic area and the largest economy to take these giant oil companies to court. From extreme heat to drought and water shortages, the climate crisis they have caused is undeniable. It is time they pay to abate the harm they have caused. We will meet the moment and fight tirelessly on behalf of all Californians, in particular those who live in environmental justice communities.”

The news release from the Office of Govenor Gavin Newsom says that “Big oil’s lies and cover ups have caused ongoing climate disasters that have imposed billions of dollars of costs on Californians. We should not have to foot the bill alone while oil companies profit.”

The suit demands that oil companies pay their fair share. It is asking the court to:

  • Order the oil companies to pay for the costs of their impacts to the environment, human health, and Californians’ livelihoods, and to help protect the state against the harms that climate change will cause in years to come
  • Prohibit oil companies from engaging in further pollution and destruction of California communities and natural resources
  • Levy financial penalties on big oil for lying to the public, and order the industry to immediately stop its ongoing efforts to deceive or misinform about their catastrophic impacts
  • Award punitive damages to the state to punish these companies for their misconduct
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