Posted: 09/14/2021 20:20:48 PM
BURLINGTON, Vermont – Vermont on Tuesday became the latest state to sue some of the nation’s largest fossil fuel companies over alleging they misled the public about their products’ impact on climate change.
The state wants companies to tell consumers that using fossil fuel products harms the environment, Vermont Attorney General TJ Donovan said after the lawsuit was filed in Vermont Superior Court in Burlington.
The warnings could be similar to those noting the danger of tobacco products or food products that include nutritional and calorie information, he said.
Donovan, speaking outside the Chittenden County Courthouse in downtown Burlington, where the lawsuit was filed, said they were not trying to stop companies from selling their products in the State and that Vermonters would continue to be able to use fossil fuels.
“What we’re saying is that Vermonters have a right to know,” Donovan said. “Give Vermonters accurate information. Put a label on the product and let Vermonters decide.
The lawsuit names ExxonMobil Corporation, Shell Oil Company, Sunoco LP, CITGO Petroleum Corporation and others.
In an email Tuesday, Casey Norton, spokesperson for ExxonMobil, said the lawsuit was without merit and merit and that they were eager to defend the company in court.
“Legal proceedings like this waste millions of taxpayer dollars and do nothing to advance meaningful actions that reduce the risks of climate change,” he said.
Citgo declined to comment on the pending litigation. The other two companies did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
The Vermont lawsuit seeks to prevent the defendants from engaging in what the lawsuit alleges to be other unfair or deceptive acts and practices.
“They have known for decades that the Earth’s climate is changing due to emissions of CO2 and other greenhouse gases, and that the fossil fuels they sell are the primary source of these emissions,” said the trial.
Despite this knowledge, companies continued to sell their products in Vermont without informing consumers of the effect those products have on their environment, the lawsuit said.
“They market fossil fuel products to consumers in Vermont by announcing that using their products is believed to be better for the environment than other products, while remaining silent in advertisements about significant contributions and continues their products to greenhouse gas emissions and climate change, ”the costume says.
A recent report by the UN-appointed Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change said that global warming is already accelerating sea level rise and worsening extremes such as heat waves, droughts, floods and storms.
The Vermont lawsuit was filed under the Vermont Consumer Protection Act, alleging that the companies misled the public about their actions, and not for alleged environmental damage.
The Center for Climate Integrity says Vermont is the sixth state to take legal action against major oil and gas companies over their alleged role in climate change. The District of Columbia has also filed a similar complaint.
This story has been corrected to show that Vermont is the sixth state to bring a similar lawsuit, not the seventh.