Minnesota files climate change lawsuit against oil companies including Koch Industries, Exxon Mobil

©Star Tribune (Minneapolis)

Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison on Wednesday sued Exxon Mobil Corp., Koch Industries and the American Petroleum Institute, saying they have long deceived consumers over the effects of climate change.

The consumer fraud lawsuit, filed in Ramsey County District Court, includes claims of multiple violations of Minnesota laws, including fraud, deceptive trade practices and false statements in advertising.

“The defendants deceived, lied and misrepresented the effects of their product to the public,” Ellison said. “They knew there would be negative effects to the state of Minnesota.”

The lawsuit seeks restitution for the alleged harms Minnesotans have suffered and also asks that the defendants fund a public education campaign on climate change.

The companies named in the lawsuit were not immediately available for comment.

Asked for a dollar amount on damages he was seeking, Ellison said “it’s going to be a lot.”

Ellison said a settlement could be akin to the $7 billion settlement in 1998 with the tobacco industry. The tobacco companies pay $200 million a year under that settlement.

The lawsuit is one of a growing number of governmental actions to hold companies responsible for climate change effects. At least 15 other plaintiffs — including the states of Massachusetts and Rhode Island, as well as cities and counties — have filed similar lawsuits.

Koch Industries owns Flint Hills in Rosemount, one of the largest refineries in the Midwest that manufactures about 80% of the gasoline used in Minnesota.

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©2020 Star Tribune (Minneapolis)