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Chicago files lawsuit against seven major oil corporations: 'These companies knowingly deceived ... consumers'

"It's not just that they knew, they misrepresented and withheld information for 50 years at least."

"It's not just that they knew, they misrepresented and withheld information for 50 years at least."

Photo Credit: Getty Images

Chicago has joined the fight against Big Oil, suing seven organizations for their alleged contributions to rising temperatures and extreme weather while downplaying the effects of their actions through disinformation. 

A press release from Mayor Brandon Johnson's administration named BP, Chevron, ConocoPhillips, Exxon Mobil, Phillips 66, and Shell in a civil lawsuit filed in Cook County Circuit Court on Feb. 20. It also included the American Petroleum Institute, which represents the companies in Congress. 

According to the Chicago Sun-Times, the lawsuit accuses the defendants of 11 counts of consumer fraud, public nuisance, conspiracy, and negligence, among other offenses, for failing to warn the public about "the unreasonably dangerous conditions of the fossil fuel products and their derivatives."

It also stated that the dirty energy industry "funded, conceived, planned and carried out a sustained and widespread campaign of denial and disinformation about the existence of climate change and their products' contribution to it."

"The climate change impacts that Chicago has faced and will continue to face — including more frequent and intense storms, flooding, droughts, extreme heat events, and shoreline erosion — are felt throughout every part of the city and disproportionately in low-income communities," the city added

Chicago has added its name to a long list of other states and cities, including California, in suing oil and gas giants for their deception, destruction, and collusion. 

While the city, represented by local firm DiCello Levitt and San Francisco firm Sher Edling, isn't seeking a specific amount, it is looking to recoup enough money to hold the companies accountable for their actions that it believes have led to infrastructure and property damage. 

For example, the city is planning to invest nearly $200 million in climate-resilience projects for low-income communities susceptible to the repercussions of extreme weather events.

Ryan Meyers, vice president and deputy general counsel of the American Petroleum Institute, rebuffed the lawsuit, telling the Chicago Sun-Times that it is "meritless" and "nothing more than a distraction from important national conversations and an enormous waste of taxpayer resources."

"These companies knowingly deceived Chicago consumers in their endless pursuit of profits," Ald. Matt Martin said in a statement. "As a result of their conduct, Chicago is enduring extreme heat and precipitation, flooding, sewage flows into Lake Michigan, damage to city infrastructure and more."

"It's not just that they knew, they misrepresented and withheld information for 50 years at least," city lawyer Rebecca Hirsch told the Sun-Times.

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