Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Exxon Mobil Lawsuit on Climate Change Follows Tobacco Path

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Back in November, I wrote this piece (click here) about the efforts of New York State to bring energy companies to justice as a result of alleged deceit and denial about climate change. As I point out in the essay, the case is following the successful tobacco industry lawsuits that showed that the tobacco companies knew that their products were harmful even thought they tried to discredit scientists who did research on health impacts of smoking. The lawsuit brought forth by New York alleges that some energy companies knew that their products were causing global climate change and that they tried to suppress science and scientists.

In an article in today's New York Times (click here for the story) by John Schwartz, it was revealed that Massachusetts and the Virgin Islands are joining the lawsuit. The case may involve a criminal charge of fraud because lying to investors and other stakeholders, in this case denying the impact of their product on the environment, is illegal. One of the main areas of inquiry involves funding of groups, many of them unscientific, that sought to discredit climate science and scientists. The case focuses on evidence that Exxon Mobil knew that emissions caused greenhouse gas pollution and associated global climate change even while they tried to suppress information about the issue.

There is little doubt in the mind of many who have followed the interaction of energy companies on the issue of climate change how this case will be decided.

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