May 2, 2022

California AG launches Exxon investigation, important step for Big Polluter accountability

Plastic bottle discarded on the sea shore. In the background the sun sets, and the sky is full of pink light.

On April 28, Attorney General Rob Bonta of California stood before the state’s shoreline and made an unprecedented announcement: His office will be launching an investigation into Exxon for deceiving the public about its role in plastic pollution.

The news came only a few short months after we, in partnership with our California-based allies, voiced our demands to Attorney General Bonta to sue the fossil fuel industry for their role in the climate crisis and demand that Big Polluters be held liable for the their climate damages and climate fraud. More than 10,000 people in the U.S. and 30 California elected officials urged Bonta to take action.

Although investigating plastics isn’t the same as investigating Big Polluters as a whole for their role in the climate crisis, the move is an important step forward for the climate liability movement –and our organizing. It shows that our collective calls for accountability are working.

Over the past several years, cities and states from Washington D.C. to Minnesota have taken similar steps toward holding Big Polluters liable. Why? Because it’s time that the industry that continues to profit from climate destruction pay for the damage it does. In California alone, the impacts of the climate crisis are evident – from rising sea levels along the coast to raging wildfires that are destroying lives and livelihoods all across the state.

Holding the industry liable can help unlock the funds needed to support a just energy transition and support impacted communities. Through liability actions, we have the potential to ensure Big Polluters start paying for the damages that they cause and be held to account for climate fraud, human rights abuses, and more. Bonta’s investigation could have a wide-reaching impact on the state and motivate leaders across the country to follow suit.

The day of the announcement, Bonta spoke clearly about the injustice of the industry’s decades-long campaigns to deceive the public about the damage that plastic pollution was causing to communities and the industry’s attempts to push false solutions. It’s clear that he is not afraid to face Big Polluters head on.

This movement is growing stronger by the day thanks to the support of our members and people like you, who are demanding that elected officials take all the steps to protect the well-being of people and the planet.

Learn more about how you can advance the call to make Big Polluters pay in your community through the Liability Roadmap – a resource and toolset for holding the industry liable locally, nationally, and globally.


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