California Sues Giant Oil Companies, Citing Decades of Deception

Beyond being the most populous state in the country, California is a major producer of oil and gas, and its attorney general’s office has a track record of bringing landmark cases that are emulated by smaller states. California is also on the front lines of climate-change-fueled extreme weather, with wildfires, floods, sea-level rise, searing heat and even tropical storms battering the state.

Exxon, Chevron, Shell, BP, ConocoPhillips and the American Petroleum Institute did not immediately reply to requests for comment.

The lawsuit, brought on behalf of the people of California by the state’s attorney general, Rob Bonta, was filed late on Friday. It claims that starting in the 1950s, the companies and their allies intentionally downplayed the risks posed by fossil fuels to the public, even though they understood that their products were likely to lead to significant global warming. It alleges that Exxon, Chevron and the other companies have continued to mislead the public about their commitment to reducing emissions in recent years, boasting about minor investments in alternative fuels while reaping record profits from the production of planet-warming fossil fuels.

“These folks had this information and lied to us, and we could have staved off some of the most significant consequences,” said California Gov. Gavin Newsom. “It’s shameful. It’s sickens you to your core.”

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