The Garden State is seeking to make ExxonMobil and other fossil fuel polluters pay for the damage that their climate deception is causing to communities. 

The wave of climate accountability lawsuits against major oil and gas corporations grew stronger today after New Jersey became the seventh state in the nation to take Big Oil companies to court.  

The Garden State’s lawsuit seeks to hold ExxonMobil, Chevron, Shell, BP, ConocoPhillips, and the American Petroleum Institute accountable for the damage that their climate deception is causing to communities across the state. 

“Based on their own research, these companies understood decades ago that their products were causing climate change and would have devastating environmental impacts down the road,” said New Jersey Attorney General Matthew Platkin. “They went to great lengths to hide the truth and mislead the people of New Jersey, and the world. In short, these companies put their profits ahead of our safety. It’s long overdue that the facts be aired in a New Jersey court, and the perpetrators of the disinformation campaign pay for the harms they’ve caused.”

Platkin announced the lawsuit as the state prepares to mark the 10-year anniversary of Superstorm Sandy, which caused more than $30 billion in property damage across the state and resulted in the deaths of 38 people. 

“We will work tirelessly to make sure these companies pay every last dollar for the harm they’ve caused,” Platkin added. “If you lie to the public to protect your profits, we will hold you accountable.”

The action was welcomed by local officials across the state, many of whom have advocated for state leaders to make climate polluters pay. Since 2020, 14 local governments and the New Jersey League of Municipalities have passed resolutions in support of statewide legal action to hold fossil fuel companies accountable. The coastal city of Hoboken filed its own climate liability lawsuit against oil majors in 2020, becoming the first municipality in the state to do so. 

New Jersey is now the most populous state in the nation to sue Big Oil companies for climate damages or fraud, joining Connecticut, Delaware, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Rhode Island, and Vermont.  The attorney general of the District of Columbia and 20 municipalities across the U.S. have also filed similar climate accountability lawsuits

Fossil fuel companies are desperate to avoid facing trial in these lawsuits, but courts have overwhelmingly rejected their efforts to escape accountability. Earlier this year, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit unanimously ruled that Hoboken and Delaware’s lawsuits could proceed in state court, where they were filed. Four other federal appeals courts and 11 federal district courts have issued similar rulings rejecting Big Oil’s arguments to move the cases to federal court. 

Big Oil’s lies and pollution have fueled the climate crisis for decades. But thanks to officials in New Jersey and across the country, the oil and gas industry’s days of escaping accountability may soon be numbered. 

Image via Edwin J. Torres/NJ Governor's Office on Flickr