June 24, 2020

STATEMENT: Amid historic demonstrations for Black lives, AG Ellison launches suit to make Big Polluters pay

Today, Minnesota AG Keith Ellison announced the state is suing ExxonMobil, three Koch Industries entities, and the American Petroleum Institute for deceiving and defrauding Minnesotans about climate change. He is the fourth attorney general to launch such a suit and the latest in the slew of lawsuits in what has been called “Big Oil’s Big Tobacco moment.” Minnesota led the nation in its historic lawsuit against Big Tobacco and today, Ellison is again making history: This case will be the first time Koch Industries, headquartered in Kansas, will be named in such a lawsuit.

The announcement comes on the heels of weeks of protests in hundreds of cities where tens of thousands of people are demanding a dismantling of systemic racism and end to police brutality in response to the recent murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis by police and the hundreds of other victims of police violence across the U.S. including Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, Tony McDade, David McAtee. AG Ellison is also serving as the prosecutor in the case of George Floyd.

The fossil fuel industry has, for decades, inflicted harm and violence on and targeted Black and Brown people around the world — profiting off of and perpetuating systemic racism in the U.S. and globally. Meanwhile, governments have protected the fossil fuel industry’s interests and bloated the budgets of police and other forms of state-sanctioned violence that brutalize Black communities, other communities of color, and target environmental defenders instead of investing adequately in communities and people-first solutions.

Please see below for a statement from Corporate Accountability U.S. Climate Campaign Director Sriram Madhusoodanan.

“We applaud AG Ellison for heeding the calls of people in Minnesota and around the world in suing ExxonMobil, Koch Industries entities and the American Petroleum Institute for misleading people about climate change to protect their bottom line. This is a move forward in the urgent fight to make Big Polluters pay and achieve climate justice.

At the same time, climate justice is impossible without racial justice. In addition to suing Big Polluters, AG Ellison is prosecuting the police officers who killed George Floyd, and he must do everything in his office’s power to secure justice and accountability in both cases.

These are important steps toward justice and there is much more work to be done. While AG Ellison must seek to hold Big Polluters and the police officers responsible for Mr. Floyd’s death accountable in the courtroom, city and state officials in Minnesota and across the country must also take action. City and state officials in Minnesota and beyond must also divest from institutions, like the police, which uphold state-sanctioned violence against Black people in the U.S, and the fossil fuel industry, which poisons the land and water and perpetrates a slow violence against Black, Brown and Indigenous people globally.”

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