March 23, 2023

Federal appeals court rules in Minnesota’s favor in climate deception lawsuit against Big Oil

8th Circuit Court of Appeals says Minnesota’s lawsuit against oil giants belongs in state court

Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison’s climate lawsuit against American Petroleum Institute (API), ExxonMobil, and Koch Industries belongs in state court, where it was filed, a U.S. appeals court ruled today in a defeat for Big Oil.

“Big Oil companies spent decades lying to the people of Minnesota about their role in the climate crisis, and thanks to this ruling, our communities are one step closer to justice,” said MN350 Executive Director Tee McClenty. “These polluters have avoided accountability for years, and now it’s time for Minnesota’s day in court.”

Like tobacco lawsuits before them, this suit, filed in 2020, seeks to hold companies accountable for decades of deliberate misinformation. Mounting evidence shows that oil companies knew as early as the 1960s that burning the fossil fuels they sell and promote to Minnesotans would create dangerous climate change. In response to this knowledge, oil companies embarked on multi-billion dollar disinformation campaigns, lying to the media, politicians and the public. These lies deliberately delayed action on climate change.

Minnesota has incurred $1.2 billion in annual health and environmental damages due to climate change, according to a report put out by the state, and will need to spend more in the future. AG Ellison’s lawsuit on behalf of the people of Minnesota seeks to hold polluters accountable for knowingly deceiving Minnesotans.

In its decision, the 8th Circuit said, “Minnesota sued a litany of fossil fuel producers (together, the Energy Companies) in state court for common law fraud and violations of Minnesota’s consumer protection statutes. In doing so, it joined the growing list of states and municipalities trying to hold fossil fuel producers responsible for alleged misrepresentations about the effects fossil fuels have had on the environment. The Energy Companies removed to federal court. The district court granted Minnesota’s motion to remand, and the Energy Companies appealed. We affirm.”