MONTPELIER, Vermont (WCAX) – Vermont has become the latest state to sue some of the nation’s largest fossil fuel companies over alleging they have misled the public about their products’ impact on climate change.
Vermont Attorney General TJ Donovan says Shell, Citgo, Sunoco and Exxon have misled customers for years with false information about the impact of fossil fuels on the environment.
The lawsuit claims that the oil companies have engaged in deceptive advertising campaigns and greenwashing, that is, when you claim your product is more environmentally friendly than it actually is.
“What we’re just saying – Vermonters have a right to know. Give Vermonters accurate information, put a label on the product and let Vermonters decide, ”said Donovan, D-Vt. Attorney General.
Donovan is requesting disclosure of these environmental impacts at the pump. For example, a label explaining the contribution of fossil fuels to global warming.
“The label could be as simple as the use and consumption of this product can contribute to climate change,” said Vermont Assistant Attorney General Justin Kobler.
It could be similar to the warning you see on a pack of cigarettes.
Donovan is also asking for civil penalties, which could amount to up to $ 10,000 per violation, as provided for under the Emergency Preparedness Act.
We contacted all four companies. ExxonMobil issued a statement saying, “Legal proceedings like this waste millions of taxpayer dollars and do nothing to advance meaningful actions that reduce the risks of climate change. … The allegations are unfounded and unfounded. We look forward to defending the company in court.
It’s unclear what impact the lawsuit might ultimately have on the price at the pump.
Matt Cota of the Vermont Fuel Dealers Association notes that most gas stations in Vermont are locally owned, even though they sell gas from these large companies.
“So when you see a Shell station or a Mobil station, those stations are owned by a local Vermonter. And this lawsuit is not about them but the big suppliers, producers and refiners, ”Cota said.
I contacted local gasoline dealers but did not hear back until this story was posted.
Vermont is not the first state to adopt this legal tactic, a similar case is pending in Connecticut.
As to whether the tiny state of Vermont is equipped to take this lawsuit and win, Donovan says he may be a little too optimistic and perhaps naive, but he looks forward to hearing from the companies.
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