The lawsuit requests a court to order oil companies, like ExxonMobil and Sunoco, to warn consumers about the dangers of fossil fuel products.
Vermont has filed a lawsuit against four of the largest oil companies in the United States, claiming they intentionally misled the public about the effects of fossil fuel on global warming.
According to The Associated Press, Vermont wants oil companies to admit that their products harm the environment and contribute to climate change. State Attorney General T.J. Donovan said that the oil and gas companies could issue warnings similar to those on cigarette packets and fatty foods.
On Tuesday, Donovan said that Vermont is not trying to stop oil companies from selling their products within the state—and that, no matter the lawsuit’s outcome, Vermonters will still be able to use fossil fuels.
“What we are saying is that Vermonters have the right to know,” Donovan told the press. “Give Vermonters accurate information. Put a label on the product and let Vermonters decide.”
The Associated Press notes that Donovan’s complaint names as defendants ExxonMobil, the Shell Oil Company, Sunoco, CITGO Petroleum, and several other corporations.
Some of the companies named have already shot back against Donovan’s allegations. Casey Norton, an ExxonMobil spokesperson, told The Associated Press that the complaint is baseless.
“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,” Norton said.
Nonetheless, Donovan’s lawsuit—similar to complaints filed by the attorneys general of other liberal-led, Northeastern states—alleges that ExxonMobil and its rivals have known about man-made climate change for years. But instead of reforming their practices, the companies misled the public.
“They have known for decades that the Earth’s climate has been changing because of emissions of CO2 and other greenhouse gases, and that the fossil fuels they sell are the primary source of these emissions,” the lawsuit states.
Donovan observes that, in spite of their dangers, oil and gas companies have continued selling their products in Vermont without disclosing the risks of continued, long-term use.
“They market fossil fuel products to Vermont consumers by advertising that the use of their products is supposedly better for the environment than other products, while staying silent in the ads about the continuing, significant contributions their products actually make to greenhouse gas emissions and climate change,” the suit says.
The lawsuit requests that a judge order oil companies to stop “engaging in unfair or deceptive acts and practices,” and to disclose funds acquired or amassed through purportedly “unlawful” practices.