Connecticut Attorney General William Tong announced Monday the state is taking on one of the world’s biggest oil companies, suing ExxonMobil for allegedly lying to consumers about climate change. At a news conference in New Haven, Tong contended the company has known for the past 70 years that its products were contributing to climate change.
“After Hurricane Irene and Superstorm Sandy, right here in this city, we know the tremendous damage it can do and has done and will do unless we take major action to fight it,” said Tong.
In the suit, the state seeks reimbursement for any mitigation measures taken because of climate change -- like the more than $200 million spent on flood-control projects in the Elm City.
“This is money that we could be spending on the vital things that keep our community safe,” said New Haven Mayor Justin Elicker.
Tong said the state is suing under the Connecticut Unfair Trade Practices Act, or CUTPA. Tong claims the company has known since the 1950s through its own research the damage that burning oil and gas could cause.
“ExxonMobil spent a lot of time, energy, money on climate science for a very long period of time so we expect there to be a lot to explore, a lot of people to talk to, and we feel very confident we are going to be able to build a strong case against one of the biggest companies on earth,” Tong said, adding that there is no statute of limitations under CUTPA.
Meanwhile, in a written statement to Connecticut Public Radio, ExxonMobil spokesperson Casey Norton said:
“Legal proceedings like this waste millions of dollars of taxpayer money and do nothing to advance meaningful actions that reduce the risks of climate change. ExxonMobil will continue to invest in efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions while meeting society’s growing demand for energy. The claims are baseless and without merit. We look forward to defending the company in court.”
Tong said it took almost two years to build the case against the company. He expects other states to file similar lawsuits.