Minnesota's climate fraud suit against Exxon, Koch, API belongs in state court, judge rules
April 5, 2021
This week the state of Minnesota won an important victory in its suit against the fossil fuel industry’s Big Deception when a federal judge ruled that the suit belonged in state court. The judge ruled that Attorney General Keith Ellison’s case is a “well pleaded” consumer protection lawsuit that targets fraud and misinformation (i.e. lying), not national climate policy. The ruling is part of Ellison’s lawsuit to hold ExxonMobil, the American Petroleum Institute, and three Koch Industries entities accountable for perpetuating fraud against Minnesotans and get them to cease their deceptive practices.
“This ruling is a strong first step in holding Big Oil accountable for the billions in damages they caused by lying about the risks of their product,” said Brett Benson from MN350. “The harm caused by the misinformation fomented and perpetuated by Koch industries and other fossil fuel companies is incalculable, and the state’s lawsuit is an important beginning to ensuring justice is done for the millions of Minnesotans negatively impacted by their lies.”
In his decision the judge wrote:
“The Complaint only requires a court to determine whether Defendants engaged in a misinformation campaign that ran afoul of Minnesota’s consumer protection statutes and common law, and whether the State can demonstrate that those alleged violations of discrete state laws caused harm to Minnesota and Minnesota consumers...the State here does not bring claims capable of addressing the panoply of social, environmental, and economic harms posed by climate change. The State’s Complaint, far more simply, seeks to address one particular feature of the broader problem—Defendants’ alleged misinformation campaign.”
Mounting evidence shows that oil companies knew as early as the 1960s that burning the fossil fuels they sell and promote to Minnesotans would create dangerous climate change. In response to this knowledge, oil companies embarked on multibillion-dollar disinformation campaigns, lying to the media, politicians and the public.
Now, Minnesota has incurred $1.2 billion in annual health and environmental damages due to climate change, according to a report put out by the state, and will need to spend more in the future. The AG’s office is holding Exxon, Koch and API accountable for the public health, environmental and financial damages their lies have caused in Minnesota.
Learn more about Big Oil’s Big Deception at MN350’s campaign webpage.