A group of 16 Puerto Rican municipalities have filed a RICO lawsuit alleging numerous major oil and coal companies engaged in a coordinated “fraudulent marketing scheme” denying the science of climate change. The municipalities argue the companies — including ExxonMobil, Shell, Chevron, ConocoPhillips, Anadarko, Arch Coal/Resources, Peabody Energy, and others — violated the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act by colluding to convince customers their products did not alter the climate despite knowing that burning fossil fuels causes climate change.

Climate change, among other things, increases the severity of major hurricanes like Hurricane Maria which killed nearly 3,000 people in 2017, and extreme precipitation like the 30 inches of rain dumped by Hurricane Fiona in September. The Puerto Rican municipalities join a drumbeat of at least 22 other American political entities suing to hold major fossil fuel companies accountable for the damage wrought by climate change they knew their products caused. (Reuters; Climate Signals background: Hurricanes, Hurricane Maria)