Washington, D.C. is suing the four largest investor-owned oil and gas companies — BP, Chevron, ExxonMobil, and Shell — for allegedly misleading consumers about climate change, including historically undermining climate science and even now using deceptive advertising about the companies’ role in leading solutions to the climate crisis.
District of Columbia Attorney General Karl A. Racine announced the consumer fraud lawsuit on Thursday, June 25. The lawsuit claims that the four oil majors violated the District’s Consumer Protection Procedures Act by engaging in misleading acts and practices around the marketing, promotion, and sale of fossil fuel products, which produce globe-warming pollution. The D.C. lawsuit alleges that these companies knew since at least the 1950s about the harmful consequences of burning fossil fuels and that they engaged in a campaign to deceive the public about those risks.
“For decades, these oil and gas companies spent millions to mislead consumers and discredit climate science in pursuit of profits,” said Attorney General Racine. “The defendants violated the District’s consumer protection law by concealing the fact that using fossil fuels threatens the health of District residents and the environment. [The Office of Attorney General] filed this suit to end these disinformation campaigns and to hold these companies accountable for their deceptive practices.”
In particular, the D.C. Attorney General’s Office called out the oil industry’s use of fake grassroots groups, such as the Advancement of Sound Science Coalition, which started out as a front group for tobacco giant Philip Morris in 1993. This group had transitioned to become the Advancement of Sound Science Center in 1997 and was run out of the home of climate science denier Steve Milloy, who most recently worked in public relations for coal company Murray Energy. The group has now been phased out of existence.
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