California sues oil giants for downplaying risks posed by fossil fuels

(Reuters) – The state of California has sued major oil companies including Exxon Mobil Corp, Shell PLC, and Chevron Corp, accusing them of playing down the risks posed by fossil fuels, the New York Times reported on Friday.

The lawsuit, which also targets BP and ConocoPhillips, alleges the energy giants’ actions have caused tens of billions of dollars in damage and accuses them of deceiving the public, the report said, citing a filing in a superior court in San Francisco.

The American Petroleum Institute, an industry trade group, has also been listed as a defendant in the case, the report said, adding that California has sought the creation of an abatement fund to pay for future damages caused by climate related disasters in the state.

The legal action follows dozens of lawsuits filed in recent years against the fossil fuel industry by states and municipalities across the United States broadly alleging harms from climate impacts including extreme weather.

The American Petroleum Institute and oil companies have said in response to those lawsuits that policies to address climate change should come from the federal executive branch and Congress, not via a patchwork of decisions in court cases across the U.S.

California’s secretary of state, Chevron, BP, Shell, ConocoPhillips and the American Petroleum Institute didn’t immediately respond to Reuters requests for comment. Exxon Mobil could not immediately be reached.

(Reporting by Kanjyik Ghosh in Bangalore; additional reporting by Lavanya Ahire; editing by Mark Potter)

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