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California's Big Oil Lawsuit Strategy Mirrors Fight Against Big Tobacco

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California's Big Oil Lawsuit Strategy Mirrors Fight Against Big Tobacco

19 September 2023

The state of California has filed a massive lawsuit against oil companies. The charge is that oil companies knew they were causing climate change, and lied to cover it up. And now, California is suing for damages. The state is suing to force fossil fuel companies to help fund recovery efforts related to California's extreme weather related events — floods, fire, dangerous heat --which have been made more common and intense by climate change. Back in the 1990s, states across the country sued tobacco companies - demanding that they be compensated for healthcare costs associated with treating people for smoking-related illnesses. It was a long and complicated process, but states won more than $360 billion. The victory brought a big change to the tobacco industry, forcing companies to accurately label cigarettes as potentially lethal, and limiting where and how cigarettes could be marketed. Host Ailsa Chang speaks with Richard Wiles, president of the Center for Climate Integrity on the ramifications of the climate lawsuit. A previous version of this episode did not include a statement from the American Petroleum Institute responding to Richard Wiles' comments. Learn more about sponsor message choices: NPR Privacy Policy


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