DC moves closer to climate lawsuit against Exxon

DC moves closer to climate lawsuit against Exxon
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The D.C. government is beefing up its legal team ahead of an anticipated legal challenge against Exxon.

Attorney General Karl Racine on Friday tweeted a link to a webpage that included a link about a job posting for outside counsel “passionate about protecting our environment” to join the city government's legal team.

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The tweet linked to a contract that explained the position would be involved in providing legal services in support of the attorney general's "investigation and potential litigation against ExxonMobil Corporation (Exxon).”

According to the contract, the legal challenge would aim to see if Exxon is responsible for potential violations of the Consumer Protection Procedures Act by failing to alert consumers of the known environmental effects — including climate change — that stem from burning Exxon’s fossil fuels.

“Since at least the 1970s, Exxon has been aware that its fossil fuel products were significantly contributing to climate change, and that climate change would accelerate and lead to significant harms to the environment in the twenty-first century,” the contract says. “However, despite this knowledge, in connection with selling gasoline to D.C. consumers and others, Exxon has failed to inform consumers about the effects of its fossil fuel products on climate change.”

The job posting is for several positions: a senior climate lawyer, a junior lawyer and paralegal.

Racine was one of more than a dozen state attorneys general who in 2016 joined a coalition to aggressively push the climate agenda established under the Obama administration. That included holding the fossil fuel industry accountable for its greenhouse gas emissions.

“Our office has a mandate to protect the public interest, and this includes ensuring that our community is not negatively affected by preventable climate change. We welcome this crucial state-to-state cooperation to ensure that we do everything we can to fight the causes of climate change regardless of whether the federal government continues to partner with us in these efforts or not,” Racine said at the time.

If D.C. moves forward with a lawsuit against Exxon, it will be joining a handful of other states and municipalities looking into how the oil and gas giant may have failed to publicize science it had linking emissions to global warming.

The attorneys general of New York, Massachusetts and the U.S. Virgin Islands first launched investigations into Exxon in 2015 and 2016.

New York sued Exxon in October for allegedly engaging in "a longstanding fraudulent scheme." An Exxon spokesman told The Hill at the time that there "is no evidence to support these allegations."