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California Governor Newsom Takes Aim at Oil and Gas Industry in Climate Lawsuit

California Governor Gavin Newsom, alongside state Attorney General Rob Bonta, has launched a new lawsuit targeting major oil and gas companies, including Exxon Mobil, Shell, Chevron, ConocoPhillips, BP, and the American Petroleum Institute (API). The lawsuit alleges that these industry giants have engaged in a decades-long campaign of deception regarding climate change, resulting in statewide climate-related harms in California.

Newsom asserted that “Big Oil has been lying to us,” concealing the environmental risks posed by fossil fuels for over 50 years. The suit aims to hold these companies accountable for the alleged tens of billions of dollars in damage caused to California by their actions, including wildfires, toxic air pollution, deadly heatwaves, and severe droughts.

Key points from the lawsuit and industry response:

  • Deceptive Campaign: The lawsuit accuses the oil and gas companies of misleading the public and alleges that they have known about the dangers of their products for years while downplaying the risks.
  • Abatement Fund: California is seeking the creation of an abatement fund to cover future damages resulting from climate-related disasters in the state.
  • Industry Response: API, an industry trade group, argued that climate policy should be determined by Congress, not the court system. They emphasized that the sector has made substantial emissions reductions while providing reliable energy to consumers.
  • Shell’s Stance: Shell expressed support for transitioning to a lower-carbon future through collaborative, society-wide efforts. The company believes that policy and action from all sectors are the appropriate means to address climate change.
  • Bonta’s Statement: Attorney General Bonta accused the industry of spreading “lies and mistruths” for profit, noting that California’s climate crisis is undeniable, impacting areas like extreme heat, droughts, and environmental justice communities.
  • Wider Legal Landscape: This lawsuit is part of a broader trend where states and municipalities across the United States have filed lawsuits against the fossil fuel industry, alleging harms resulting from climate impacts.

The response from Chevron, BP, ConocoPhillips, and Exxon Mobil was not immediately available at the time of reporting.

This legal action reflects the ongoing debate around climate responsibility and accountability in the face of environmental challenges and the role of the fossil fuel industry in addressing climate change.

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