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California Goes After Big Oil Profits

California’s Attorney General this week added a so-called disgorgement remedy to a lawsuit filed against Big Oil majors last year, demanding that they gave up profits made on allegedly illegal business practices.

The original lawsuit accused Big Oil of downplaying the risks associated with the use of oil and gas, and climate change. It targeted Exxon, Chevron, BP, and ConocoPhillips.

“Big Oil has been lying to us – covering up the fact that they’ve long known how dangerous the fossil fuels they produce are for our planet. It has been decades of damage & deception. California is taking action to hold big polluters accountable,” Governor Gavin Newsom said in a Tweet at the time.

Now, Attorney General Rob Bonta who is leading the charge against Big Oil has added a clause that requires “a party who profits from illegal or wrongful acts to give up any profits they made as a result of that illegal or wrongful conduct. The purpose of this remedy is to prevent unjust enrichment and make illegal conduct unprofitable.”

In other words, California claims that the oil and gas industry selling oil and gas it extracts and refines amounts to illegal activity or a wrongful act. It also claims, in the original lawsuit, that Big Oil made billions in profits while causing billions in damages resulting from climate change. The companies named in the suit were also accused of deceiving the public about their business and climate change.

The American Petroleum Institute was quick to react to the news.

“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. “Climate policy is for Congress to debate and decide, not a patchwork of courts,” he added.

By Irina Slav for Oilprice.com

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  • Jorge Gutierrez on June 12 2024 said:
    Big oil says its congress who decides these things. Big oil says that not all profits are for enriching investors. A small amount gets donated to some members of Congress who let the profits continue at everyone else's expense.

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