California Sues Oil Firms for Greenwashing Operations

Earlier this week, the attorney general of California announced that the state would continue suing some large oil companies that had illegally obtained their profits. AG Rob Bonta explained that this was part of a suit which claimed that the companies had falsely advertised their products’ environmental sustainability attributes.

The lawsuit, which was recently amended, was first launched in September last year against Shell, Exxon Mobil, BP, ConocoPhillips and Chevron. In the initial suit, the plaintiffs claimed that the companies had for decades conducted campaigns focused on establishing doubt and deceiving the general population on the impact that fossil fuels had on climate change.

Over the years, the companies had released marketing ads and public statements denying this impact, despite the fact that they have been aware of the association between fossil fuels and climate change since the 1960s. The recently amended suit applies AB1366, a law that permits the AG to acquire a remedy of profits in cases of false advertising and unfair competition. Companies found to have violated this law are required to give up profits obtained deceptively to be used as restitutions for victims of fraud in California.

The amended suit also includes various instances of supposed greenwashing by the companies, with the state claiming that the companies presented their fossil-fuel products as less environmentally damaging or more environmentally friendly than they actually are.

Examples of supposed greenwashing cited in the case include how the Techron fuel additive, a product by Chevron, was marketed as having cleaning power that reduced emissions. Chevron is known to market materials that “advance a lower carbon future,” with the lawsuit claiming that its ads may mislead consumers because they suggest that the company’s fuels are benign or environmentally beneficial when they are not.

The complaint also cites a similar example of how Exxon marketed its Synergy fuels as cleaner and claimed that the product reduced carbon-dioxide emissions.

In a statement, Bonta stated that it was clear that these major oil companies were focused on misleading the general public with their mistruths and lies, adding that their ongoing misconduct was incriminating. Bonta added that the state remained focused on prosecuting this issue, ensuring that the companies paid to decrease the harm they had caused and that the illegally generated profits were recovered to benefit residents of California.

Shell released a statement shortly after, with its spokesperson noting that the company didn’t believe that climate change was a matter to be addressed in court. Rather, the spokesperson continued, the proper way to drive progress and come up with solutions was through good policies implemented by government and adhered to by all sectors.

This lawsuit is likely to motivate companies such as First Tellurium Corp. (CSE: FTEL) (OTCQB: FSTTF) to have verifiable records of any environmental, social and governance (“ESG”) undertakings that they incorporate into any of their operations so that if any queries arise in the future, they can refer to those records.

NOTE TO INVESTORS: The latest news and updates relating to First Tellurium Corp. (CSE: FTEL) (OTCQB: FSTTF) are available in the company’s newsroom at https://ibn.fm/FSTTF

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