Last time, we spoke briefly about some of the causes of action that can be included in environmental litigation, including trespass, nuisance, strict liability, negligence, as well as various statutory violations. Another possibility in environmental litigation is fraud. An example of environmental litigation involving allegations of fraud can be seen in a recent lawsuit filed against Exxon Mobile Corp.
Environmental advocacy group Conservation Law Foundation filed a lawsuit against the oil corporation last week, alleging that Exxon Mobil’s bulk storage and distribution termination in Everett, Massachusetts has polluted and constitutes to pollute nearby waterways and communities, while the company has failed to address the impact of climate change on the facility. Among the claims are that the company committed fraud by covering up the risks of climate change for decades.
Multiple investigations are currently underway regarding the fraud claims. According to the allegations, the company has known for decades about research which puts its operations at risk, but has continued to case doubt upon that research. The focus is not only on what happened in the past, but also with how the fraud will impact the future of the company.
It remains to be seen what comes of the investigations, but the company is, at least for now, under significant scrutiny. As we mentioned before, businesses have the obligation to abide by environmental laws, and managing liabilities surrounding the use of environmental resources is an important, ongoing task, particularly for companies in the energy industry. Working with an experienced attorney can help ensure a business has the guidance necessary to get a solid handle on its obligations under environmental law.
Huffington Post, “Exxon Mobil Sued Over Climate Change Cover-Up,” Chris D’Angelo, Sept. 29, 2016.
The New York Times, “Exxon Mobil Fraud Inquiry Said to Focus More on Future Than Past,” John Schwartz, Aug. 19, 2016.