June 1, 2021

Fossil fuel interests continue delay strategy in fighting MN lawsuit

MN350 statement on today’s hearing in U.S. District Court: “Big Oil is trying to delay accountability and dodge the reckoning due”

(Minneapolis, MN) — Fossil fuel interests returned to federal court today seeking a stay in a decision to remand Attorney General Keith Ellison’s lawsuit against them back to state court. Attorney General Ellison is suing ExxonMobil, Koch Industries, and the American Petroleum Institute in state court for damages resulting from their decades of deception about the true cost of their products. U.S. District Judge Judge John Tunheim in March called the lawsuit a “well-pleaded consumer protection action” and defendants’ attacks “a caricature.”

MN350 Communications Director Brett Benson issued this statement about today’s hearing before Judge Tunheim:

“Big Oil is trying to delay accountability and dodge the reckoning that is due for their decades of lies about the dangers of climate change and how their products worsened the crisis. Minnesotans are suffering more than a billion dollars a year in damages from climate change. These companies not only knew about the danger but also lied repeatedly.”

Minnesota is one of several states suing fossil fuel companies for damages stemming from these companies’ decades of lying about the harm their product caused. Minnesotans are paying more than a billion dollars in climate-related costs annually, and the lawsuit seeks justice for the costs incurred by the oil companies’ deceptive practices.

Attorney General Ellison recently published a commentary in Bloomberg Law outlining the case and asking the Biden-Harris administration to stand with attorneys general seeking justice, to stop the Department of Justice from defending fossil fuel interests, and to oppose any attempts by fossil fuel interests to seek a liability shield from Congress.

Last month, nine U.S. Senators representing communities that have taken Big Oil to court for climate deception sent a letter urging the U.S. Department of Justice to “reassess” its previous support of the fossil fuel industry in several lawsuits. 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.

Earlier this spring, six attorneys general suing Big Oil, including Attorney General Ellison, wrote a similar letter asking the DOJ to reverse the Trump administration’s position and support efforts to hold polluters accountable for climate deception.