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DC sues oil companies over climate change

DC sues oil companies over climate change
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Washington, D.C., sued oil companies ExxonMobil, Chevron, BP and Shell over climate change on Thursday. 

The suit, filed by District Attorney General Karl Racine, alleges that the companies “systematically and intentionally misled consumers in Washington, DC ... about the central role their products play in causing climate change.”

Specifically, it accuses them of knowing about the impact carbon emissions would have on climate change since as early as the 1950s and promoting disinformation about fossil fuel products. 

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“For decades, these oil and gas companies spent millions to mislead consumers and discredit climate science in pursuit of profits,” Racine said in a statement. “The defendants violated the District’s consumer protection law by concealing the fact that using fossil fuels threatens the health of District residents and the environment.”

ExxonMobil spokesman Casey Norton told The Hill in an email that the suit’s claims are “baseless and without merit.”

“This lawsuit is part of a coordinated, politically motivated campaign against energy companies,” Norton said. “Legal proceedings like this waste millions of dollars of taxpayer money and do nothing to advance meaningful actions that reduce the risks of climate change.”

Shell spokesperson Anna Arata told The Hill in a statement that the company's position on climate change "has been a matter of public record for decades."

"We agree that action is needed now on climate change, we fully support the need for society to transition to a lower-carbon future and we’re committed to playing our part. As the energy system evolves, so will our business, to provide the mix of products that our customers need and extend the economic and social benefits of energy access to everyone," Arata said.

The lawsuit comes just one day after Minnesota filed a similar suit against ExxonMobil, as well as the American Petroleum Institute and three Koch Industries entities. 

New York and Massachusetts have also sued ExxonMobil over climate change although a judge ruled in Exxon's favor in the New York case.

—Updated at 1:58 p.m.