WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The District Attorney for the District of Columbia on Thursday filed an action against Exxon Mobil Corp, BP Plc, Chevron Corp and Royal Dutch Shell Plc for “systematically and intentionally” deceiving consumers about the role their products play in climate change, the latest action by a US attorney general against the oil and gas industry.
Attorney General Karl Racine’s lawsuit comes one day after Minnesota AG Keith Ellison filed a lawsuit against the American Petroleum Institute, Exxon Mobil and Koch Industries for violating state laws prohibiting consumer fraud, practices misleading commercials and false advertisements.
“The defendants violated the district’s consumer protection law by concealing the fact that the use of fossil fuels threatens the health of district residents and the environment,” Racine said in a statement.
The intent of the lawsuit is to “end these disinformation campaigns and hold these companies accountable for their deceptive practices,” he said.
Casey Norton, an Exxon spokesperson, said the lawsuit was part of a “coordinated and politically motivated” campaign against the energy companies.
“The claims are baseless and baseless. We are looking forward to defending the company in court, ”he said.
The other companies were not immediately available for comment.
Racine told reporters on Thursday that his office had learned of the Minnesota trial only when it was filed yesterday and that it had prepared it well before.
The Minnesota and DC lawsuits are the latest in a series of court challenges by states, cities and citizen groups targeting fossil fuel companies over their role in global warming.
Counterparts in California, New York and Massachusetts have also filed lawsuits against the oil majors, but the lawsuits in Minnesota and DC focus on consumer protection.
Racine said the companies named “have sought to create a false image” of the environmental damage caused by fossil fuels, even if they “rotate their marketing efforts” to market their products as clean.