The state of Minnesota filed a lawsuit yesterday against the American Petroleum Institute (API), Exxon Mobil Corp, and Koch Industries that stated the companies violated Minnesota laws barring consumer fraud, deceptive trade practices, and false advertising.
Minnesota is the first state to name the API, the US’s main oil and gas lobby group, as a defendant.
Flint Hills Resources LP and Flint Hills Resources Pine Bend are also named in the lawsuit. Koch Industries owns the Pine Bend oil refinery through its subsidiary Flint Hills Resources.
Minnesota attorney general Keith Ellison said:
The fraud, deceptive advertising, and other violations of Minnesota state law and common law that the lawsuit shows they perpetrated have harmed Minnesotans’ health and our state’s environment, infrastructure, and economy.
Further, the lawsuit asserts that from 1997 to 2017, “Koch-controlled foundations gave more than $127 million to groups that obfuscated climate science.”
Ellison said the state wants the defendants to fund an education campaign on climate change and pay for damages caused by global warming.
A number of lawsuits have been filed against fossil fuel companies by states, cities, and counties. The State of New York’s lawsuit against Exxon was dismissed because the judge ruled that New York failed to prove investors were deceived. New York’s lawsuit was investor-based, where Minnesota’s is consumer-based.
Minnesota’s lawsuit is most similar to the Massachusetts case in the allegations of consumer fraud in violation of state consumer protection statutes. But the Minnesota lawsuit targets additional defendants besides Exxon and is the first in the country to target Koch Industries and API.
According to the Star-Tribune, state environmental groups welcomed the lawsuit, including the Minnesota Center for Environmental Advocacy, Honor the Earth, Fresh Energy, and MN350.
MN350’s executive director Sam Grant said:
We have a choice over freedom to profit or freedom to breathe.
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