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Delaware sues major oil companies over climate change

Delaware sues major oil companies over climate change
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Delaware on Thursday became the latest state to sue major oil and gas companies over climate change, claiming they knew about the issue for decades but participated in a “campaign of deception."

“Fossil Fuel Defendants had actual knowledge that their products were and are causing and contributing to the injuries complained of, and acted with conscious indifference to the probable dangerous consequences of their conduct’s and products’ foreseeable impact upon the rights of others, including the State and its residents, motivated primarily by unreasonable financial gain,” the lawsuit states. 

The suit also accuses companies of continuing to mislead the public about the impact of their products on climate change through “misleading and deceptive greenwashing campaigns."

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Named in the lawsuit are major companies including Exxon Mobil, Chevron, BP and Shell, as well as major lobbying group the American Petroleum Institute (API). 

“Delawareans are already paying for the malfeasance of the world’s biggest fossil fuel companies,” said state Attorney General Kathy Jennings (D) in a statement. “Exxon, Chevron, and other mega-corporations knew exactly what kind of sacrifices the world would make to support their profits, and they deceived the public for decades.”

“Now we are staring down a crisis at our shores, and taxpayers are once again footing the bill for damage to our roads, our beaches, our environment, and our economy. We are seeking accountability from some of the world’s most powerful businesses to pay for the mess they’ve made,” Jennings added.

The lawsuit follows similar suits brought against one or more of the companies named in the Delaware suit by Massachusetts, Minnesota, Washington, D.C., Charleston S.C., and Hoboken, N.J. 

New York has also attempted to sue Exxon Mobil in 2018, accusing it of deceiving investors, but a judge ruled in the company’s favor. 

Accused companies and groups defended themselves and criticized the lawsuit. 

“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,”  Exxon Mobil spokesperson Casey Norton said in an email. “The claims are baseless and without merit. We look forward to defending the company in court.”

“The record of the past two decades demonstrates that the industry has achieved its goal of providing affordable, reliable American energy to U.S. consumers while substantially reducing emissions and our environmental footprint. Any suggestion to the contrary is false,” said a statement from Paul Alfonso, API's chief legal officer and senior vice president.