California has filed a civil lawsuit against five oil majors and the industry's largest lobbying group, the American Petroleum Institute, for allegedly engaging in "deception and creating climate change-related harms."

In a Saturday statement, California Attorney General Rob Bonta said his office has sued ExxonMobil Corp., Shell Plc, Chevron Corp., ConocoPhillips Corp. and BP Plc in the San Francisco County Superior Court on behalf of the state.

California's complaint asserts that "although the companies have known since at least the 1960s that the burning of fossil fuels would warm the planet and change our climate, they denied or downplayed climate change in public statements and marketing."

California is seeking "nuisance abatement through the creation of a fund to finance climate mitigation and adaptation efforts; injunctive relief to both protect California's natural resources from pollution, impairment, and destruction as well as to prevent the companies from making any further false or misleading statements about the contribution of fossil fuel combustion to climate change; damages; and penalties," Bonta said.

In California, a public nuisance is anything which is injurious to health and affects the public. In addition, the state said it is accusing the majors of damage to natural resources, false advertising and misleading environmental marketing, among others.

Bonta alleged that the majors and API have long known about the climate impacts caused by using fossil fuels.

Specifically, he said that API and its members in 1968 received a report from the Stanford Research Institute which it had hired to conduct research on environmental pollutants including carbon dioxide. According to Bonta, the report published 55 years ago stated that "significant temperature changes are almost certain to occur by the year 2000."

API's General Counsel Ryan Meyers said in a statement that the past two decades showed the industry can provide affordable energy while "reducing emissions and our environmental footprint."

"This ongoing, coordinated campaign to wage meritless, politicized lawsuits against a foundational American industry and its workers is nothing more than a distraction from important national conversations and an enormous waste of California taxpayer resources," Meyers said.

In August, California also took steps to move closer to regulating gasoline profits to curb what it regards as excessive for refiners selling fuels in the state.

In the past several decades, California has been active in suing automakers and the oil industry alleging that they are breaking environmental laws. In addition, California has set Corporate Average Fuel Economy standards that are more stringent than the federal government's, forcing carmakers to adopt the tougher requirements nationwide because of the state's massive market.

 

This content was created by Oil Price Information Service, which is operated by Dow Jones & Co. OPIS is run independently from Dow Jones Newswires and The Wall Street Journal.

 

--Reporting by Frank Tang, ftang@opisnet.com; Editing by Michael Kelly, mkelly@opisnet.com

 

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

September 18, 2023 13:47 ET (17:47 GMT)

Copyright (c) 2023 Dow Jones & Company, Inc.
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