[Vision2020] 10-24-19 "Massachusetts Sues ExxonMobil For Climate Disinformation, Greenwashing"

Ted Moffett starbliss at gmail.com
Sat Nov 16 17:36:14 PST 2019

Vision2020 Post: Ted Moffett

Massachusetts Sues ExxonMobil For Climate Disinformation, Greenwashing

Brendan DeMelle

Massachusetts filed a lawsuit against ExxonMobil today over the company's
misinformation campaign to delay action to address climate change.

Attorney General Maura Healey told reporters in a press conference today
that “Exxon has fought us every step of the way,” and was “completely
uncooperative,” noting that the company failed to comply with requests for
documents and depositions.

“Exxon has yet to produce to our office a single document. They have yet to
provide to our office a single witness. So they have been completely
uncooperative with our investigation,” Healey told reporters.

ExxonMobil misstated facts and failed to disclose important information to
both consumers and investors, according to the complaint
filed today in Suffolk Superior Court by the attorney general’s office.

“Exxon has known for decades about the catastrophic climate impacts of
burning fossil fuels—its chief product,” said AG Healey. “Yet, to this day,
Exxon continues to deceive Massachusetts consumers and investors about the
dangerous climate harms caused by its oil and gasoline products and the
significant risks of climate change—and efforts to address it—to Exxon’s

“Contrary to its shareholder representations and deceptive advertising and
marketing, Exxon’s products are a leading cause of climate change, not a
solution. That deception, we allege, violates Massachusetts law, and that’s
why we are suing. Our goal here is simple – to stop Exxon from engaging in
this deception and penalize the company for this misconduct,” Healey said.

Related: DeSmog's profile on ExxonMobil's Funding of Climate Science Denial

“In order to increase its short-term profits, stock price, and access to
capital, ExxonMobil has been dishonest with investors about the material
climate-driven risks to its business and with consumers about how its
fossil fuel products cause climate change―all in violation of Massachusetts
law,” the complaint asserts. “[I]nternal ExxonMobil and other documents
made public by the media and/or obtained during the course of the Attorney
General’s investigation reveal a systematic effort by the Company,
reminiscent of the tobacco industry’s long denial campaign about the
dangerous effects of cigarettes, to mislead both investors and consumers
in Massachusetts.”

The complaint goes beyond ExxonMobil’s activities decades ago. “ExxonMobil
now tells investors all the time that climate change risks are a management
priority for the Company,” it continues. “And yet, ExxonMobil deceptively
disseminates long-term forecasts of future growth in demand for
fossil fuels.”

This pattern of deception, the AG argues, potentially wronged every driver
who filled their tank at an ExxonMobil gas station and every investor who
took the company’s assurances as made in good faith. For each individual
consumer violation, Massachusetts law carries damages of up to $5,000.
Healey’s office did not clarify precisely how much today’s lawsuit will
seek from the oil giant in total.

“Exxon’s unlawful conduct, the complaint alleges, contributed to decades of
delay in market recognition of the climate dangers of fossil fuel products
and the urgent need to reduce greenhouse gas emissions,” the attorney
general’s office added in a statement.

In the 1980’s, the complaint alleges, Exxon, Mobil Oil and other
corporations and oil, coal and car trade associations started to organize
their response to a crisis that one Exxon consultant had warned could
“bring world economic growth to a halt” by 2025.

Their collective response to climate science? To emphasize uncertainty and
keep fossil fuels flowing.

Related: Read DeSmog's revelation about Exxon's advanced knowledge of
climate impacts from fossil fuels — “There is no doubt”: Exxon Knew
CO2 Pollution
Was A Global Threat By Late 1970s
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