California Suit Accuses Oil Industry of Lying About Fossil Fuel Threat to Earth

Sep 18, 2023

California has filed suit against the oil industry. The state argues that "Big Oil" has wreaked havoc on the Earth. The state also claims that "Big Oil" deceived the public for decades about the harm burning fossil fuels inflicts on human life.

“For more than 50 years, Big Oil has been lying to us.” California Governor Gavin Newsom said that. He accused "Big Oil" of "covering up" the harm fossil fuels were causing. He said Californians shouldn’t be forced to pay billions of dollars for the deadly heat waves, droughts and other damage they cause.   

The suit was filed Friday. It was filed in a San Francisco court. It names Exxon Mobil, Shell, Chevron, ConocoPhillips, BP, and the American Petroleum Institute (API) as defendants

API accused the state of taking politics into the courts.

Ryan Myers is API's senior vice president. He said in a statement that the lawsuit is a planned campaign "to wage meritless, politicized lawsuits" against the American oil industry and its workers. Myers said it distracts from more crucial national talks. He also said it is a waste of California taxpayer resources.

The suit alleges "Big Oil"downplayed the risk and harm of fossil fuels. The suit further claims "Big Oil' misled the public. It cites industry studies as proof. Internal memos dating back to the 1960s warning about the threat are cited too.

“Significant temperature changes are almost certain to occur by the year 2000.” A 1968 report stated this. It was drafted by API-hired researchers.

California is the eighth state to file such a lawsuit. It is also the most populous. It is a major oil and gas producer too.

Photo from Unsplash courtesy of Zbynek Burival.

Reflect: How do you think learning about and understanding the consequences of our actions can help us make better choices for the planet and society?

The oil industry knew how destructive fossil fuels were, and has repeatedly downplayed the threat and misled the public. This statement is an example of _______. (Common Core RI.5.8; RI.6.8)
a. a verdict
b. a fact
c. a prediction
d. an opinion
For more formative assessments, visit to start a free trial.

News brought to you by The Juice

Start a free trial today