California sues oil giants for deceiving public, downplaying fossil fuel risks as climate catastrophes mount

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California sued major oil companies including Exxon Mobil Corp. and Shell Plc, saying they deceived the public for decades while creating or contributing to local climate catastrophes.

The civil case, filed in superior court in San Francisco, also targets BP PlcConocoPhillipsChevron Corp. and the American Petroleum Institute, according to a spokesperson at the attorney general’s office.

The action includes some of the strongest allegations against oil giants as the state deals with increasingly destructive storms and weather events, from ravaging wildfires to “atmospheric rivers.” California has spent, and will continue to dish out, billions of dollars to recover from climate catastrophes, the complaint said.

Shell said litigation was not the appropriate vehicle for addressing climate change.

“We do not believe the courtroom is the right venue to address climate change, but that smart policy from government and action from all sectors is the appropriate way to reach solutions and drive progress,” Shell said in a statement.

American Petroleum Institute, for its part, commended environmental and green initiatives by the fossil fuel industry.

“The record of the past two decades demonstrates that the industry has achieved its goal of providing affordable, reliable American energy to U.S. consumers while substantially reducing emissions and our environmental footprint,” API Senior Vice President and General Counsel Ryan Meyers said in a statement.

Exxon Mobil, ConocoPhillips and Chevron didn’t immediately respond to requests for comment. BP declined to comment.

    — With assistance by Malathi Nayak

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