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New Jersey joins lawsuit against big oil corporations, claims they 'deceived' the public about climate change
Photo Illustration by Sean Gallup/Getty Images

New Jersey joins lawsuit against big oil corporations, claims they 'deceived' the public about climate change

New Jersey officials filed a lawsuit on Tuesday against five oil and gas companies, alleging that the corporations knew about the impact of fossil fuels on climate change but failed to warn the public.

More than two dozen other cities, counties, and states also have filed claims against Exxon Mobil, Shell Oil, Chevron, BP, ConocoPhillips, and the American Petroleum Institute trade group.

Several California cities were the first to sue the oil and gas companies in 2017. Since then, many other cities and states have joined the pending litigation, including Rhode Island, Minnesota, Vermont, Massachusetts, Connecticut, and Delaware.

CBS News reported in April that the lawsuits are modeled after the "Big Tobacco" cases in the 1990s, in which cigarette companies shelled out billions of dollars to states for tobacco-related illnesses.

New Jersey's case alleged that the big oil and gas companies not only failed to warn the public of potential dangers, but also intentionally "deceived" consumers by launching "public-relations campaigns to sow doubts about the existence, causes, and effects of climate change."

"Based on their own research, these companies understood decades ago that their products were causing climate change and would have devastating environmental impacts down the road," stated New Jersey Attorney General Matthew Platkin. "They went to great lengths to hide the truth and mislead the people of New Jersey, and the world."

State officials blamed the oil and gas industry for natural disaster events. New Jersey's environmental protection commissioner, Shawn LaTourette, stated that the community is "continually recovering from extreme heat, furious storms, and devastating floods" caused by climate change.

The lawsuit requested civil penalties and damages to cover the cost of protecting communities from natural disasters and rising sea levels.

Casey Norton, an Exxon Mobil spokesperson, argued that the legal proceedings would "waste millions of dollars of taxpayer money and do nothing to advance meaningful actions that reduce the risks of climate change." She noted that the company would "continue to invest in efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions while meeting society's growing demand for energy."

Shell similarly argued that the courtroom was not "the right venue," but rather "smart policy from government, supported by action from all business sectors, including ours, and from civil society, is the appropriate way to reach solutions and drive progress."

A Chevron spokesperson stated that the legal proceedings were "a distraction from the serious problem of global climate change, not an attempt to find a real solution." The representative stated that the lawsuit was meant "to punish a select group of energy companies for a problem that is the result of worldwide conduct stretching back to the beginning of the Industrial Revolution."

Both BP and ConocoPhillips declined to comment, reported CBS News.

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Candace Hathaway

Candace Hathaway

Candace Hathaway is a staff writer for Blaze News.
@candace_phx →