New video highlights Big Oil's decades of deception and MN's effort to hold companies accountable
June 16, 2021
(St. Paul, MN) -- Timed to the one-year anniversary of Minnesota’s consumer fraud lawsuit against Big Oil, MN350 today released a new video highlighting fossil fuel companies’ decades-long attempt to deceive Minnesotans about the damages caused by fossil fuels. The video features University of Minnesota law professor Alexandra Klass, meteorologist Sven Sundgaard, Minnesota Center for Environmental Advocacy’s (MCEA) Ellen Anderson, Connor Gibson from Grassrootbeer Investigations, Kert Davies of the Climate Investigations Center, and Dr. Laalitha Surapaneni from Health Professionals for a Healthy Climate. The video examines the impact of the climate crisis, the decades-long disinformation campaign waged by fossil fuel companies, and how Minnesota’s attorney general is trying to hold them accountable.
“The fossil fuel industry knew back in the 1960s that the planet was warming and that it was being caused by the use of fossil fuels,” said MCEA’s Ellen Anderson.
In response, oil companies embarked on multibillion dollar disinformation campaigns, lying to the media, politicians and the public and deliberately delaying action on climate change. This disinformation campaign has contributed to consequences Minnesota is experiencing today; the state incurs $1.2 billion in annual health and environmental damages due to climate change and will need to spend more in the future.
“Minnesota is one of the fastest warming states of the United States,” said meteorologist Sven Sundgaard. “Winter temperatures are really warming dramatically, up to five degrees from what they used to be. All the things that make Minnesota Minnesota that we love, our lakes, our animals, those species are really stressed because of a warming climate.”
Attorney General Keith Ellison in June 2020 filed a lawsuit against ExxonMobil, Koch Industries and its Pine Bend Refinery in Rosemount, and the American Petroleum Institute for lying to Minnesotans. The attorney general’s lawsuit seeks compensation and justice for the damage caused.
“Our consumer protection laws are very strong,” said Alexandra Klass, a law professor at the University of Minnesota. “We saw violations of those laws when it came to the tobacco companies in terms of what they said about the impacts of smoking, and we’re seeing it now with regard to the fossil fuel companies arguing for decades that their products did not contribute to the impacts of climate change even though their own scientists and their own data said that was false.”
Minnesota is just one of several states suing fossil fuel companies for damages stemming from these companies' decades of lying about the harm their product caused. Other states and municipalities across the country are also suing.
Last month, nine U.S. senators representing communities that have taken Big Oil to court sent a letter urging the U.S. Department of Justice to “reassess” its previous support of the fossil fuel industry. The letter was signed by Sens. Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut, Sheldon Whitehouse of Rhode Island, Ed Markey and Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, Ben Cardin and Chris Van Hollen of Maryland, Mazie Hirono and Brian Schatz of Hawaii, and Alex Padilla of California.
This spring, six attorneys general suing Big Oil, including Attorney General Ellison, wrote a similar letter asking the DOJ to reverse its position and support efforts to hold polluters accountable for climate deception.
MN350’s Big Deception campaign is an effort to educate Minnesotans about the decades of lying by fossil fuel companies and the current efforts to hold them accountable. Visit the campaign website to learn more.