After a three-year probe and amid mounting demands that the fossil fuel industry be held accountable for driving the climate crisis, New York Attorney General Barbara Underwood filed suit on October 24 against ExxonMobil, the world’s largest oil and gas company.
The suit accuses the oil giant of defrauding investors by downplaying the financial threat of regulations crafted to mitigate human-caused global warming.
“Big oil may finally face some consequences for its role in wrecking the climate,” declared 350.org co-founder Bill McKibben.
The complaint details years of troubling actions by Exxon’s leaders — including former CEO Rex Tillerson, who spent more than 40 years at the company prior to his short-lived tenure as the President Donald Trump’s first secretary of state.
In 2015, the Los Angeles Times and InsideClimate News reported that the company had “conducted cutting-edge climate research decades ago and then, without revealing all that it had learned, worked at the forefront of climate denial”.
Since those reports, Exxon has been named in multiple climate liability lawsuits brought by city, county, and state officials across the country as advocacy groups and the public have increasingly pressured politicians to hold oil and gas companies accountable for contributing to the climate crisis and lying about the devastating long-term impacts of dirty energy.
Exxon’s “colossal climate denial operation” — which was also detailed in a Harvard study published last year —“significantly impacted how the climate change debate played out in business, science, and politics,” noted Naomi Ages of Greenpeace USA.
Richard Wiles, executive director of the Center for Climate Integrity, observed: “Climate change deception is central to Exxon's business model.” The company pocketed immense profits while it “bankrolled a 30-year, multi-million denial campaign, manufacturing doubt about climate science when it knew there was none”.
As Exxon continues to make money from oil and gas production, coastal communities are facing the mounting financial and environmental costs of the climate crisis.
[Abridged from Common Dreams.]