Overview California Attorney General Rob Bonta has intensified legal action against major oil companies, demanding they surrender profits allegedly made thro

California Attorney General Seeks Profits from Oil Giants Over Climate Deception


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Image credit: Guy Bowden


California Attorney General Rob Bonta has intensified legal action against major oil companies, demanding they surrender profits allegedly made through misleading the public about their contribution to climate change. This move leverages a new state law enabling the attorney general to seek disgorgement of profits earned through unfair competition and false advertising.

Key Points:

  1. Legal Context:

    • Disgorgement Remedy: The new state law allows the attorney general to seek profits made while violating unfair competition and false advertising laws.
    • Expanded Lawsuit: Bonta added this remedy to an existing lawsuit against Exxon Mobil (NYSE: XOM), Chevron (NYSE: CVX), Shell (LON: SHEL), BP (NYSE: BP), ConocoPhillips (NYSE: COP), and the American Petroleum Institute (API).
    • Allegations: The suit accuses these companies of causing significant environmental damage and misleading consumers about the impact of fossil fuels on climate change.
  2. Industry Response:

    • API's Stance: The American Petroleum Institute dismissed the lawsuit as meritless and politically motivated. API General Counsel Ryan Meyers emphasized that climate policy should be determined by Congress, not through litigation.
    • Shell's Position: Shell argued that climate change solutions require collaborative efforts across society and are not suited for resolution through the courts.
  3. Legal and Economic Implications:

    • Financial Impact: If successful, the disgorgement of profits could amount to substantial financial penalties for the oil companies involved.
    • Precedent Setting: This case could set a precedent for other states or countries seeking similar remedies against corporations for environmental and consumer deception.
    • Climate Accountability: The lawsuit underscores the increasing legal pressure on fossil fuel companies to account for their environmental impact and transparency in public communications.
  4. Statements from Involved Parties:

    • API: "This ongoing, coordinated campaign to wage meritless, politicized lawsuits against a foundational American industry and its workers is nothing more than a distraction from important national conversations and an enormous waste of taxpayer resources," said API General Counsel Ryan Meyers.
    • Shell: "Addressing climate change requires a collaborative, society-wide approach," Shell stated, emphasizing that it does not believe the issue should be resolved in court.


California's legal action against major oil companies represents a significant step in holding these corporations accountable for their environmental impact and transparency practices. By seeking the disgorgement of profits, Attorney General Rob Bonta aims to address the financial gains made through alleged deception regarding climate change contributions.

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