California sues oil giants for downplaying risks posed by fossil fuels

FILE PHOTO: A general view of oil drilling equipment on federal land near Fellows, California

(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, according to a court filing on Friday.

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

The American Petroleum Institute, an industry trade group, has also been listed as a defendant in the case, according to the filing.

California has sought the creation of an abatement fund to pay for future damages caused by climate-related disasters in the state, the filing showed.

California Governor Gavin Newsom, said in a post on X, formerly known as Twitter, "California is taking action to hold big polluters accountable."

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 said that climate policy is for Congress to debate and decide, not the court system, in an emailed response to Reuters.

Shell echoed that sentiment in an emailed statement, saying "We do not believe the courtroom is the right venue to address climate change."

BP declined to comment while Chevron and ConocoPhillips did not immediately respond to Reuters requests for comment. Exxon Mobil could not immediately be reached.

(Reporting by Kanjyik Ghosh and Lavanya Ahire in Bangalore and Nate Raymond in Boston; editing by Mark Potter, Diane Craft and David Gregorio)