This story was originally published by Grist and appears here as part of the Climate Desk collaboration. This coverage is made possible through a partnership with Grist and Interlochen Public Radio in Northern Michigan.

Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel announced Thursday that she plans to sue fossil fuel companies for knowingly contributing to climate change, harming the state’s economy and ways of life.

“It’s long past time that we step up and hold the fossil fuel companies that are responsible for all these damages accountable,” she said.

With this litigation, Michigan would join dozens of local, tribal, and state governments that have taken similar steps to try to make the industry pay for climate damage.

Nessel said the case is an effort to recover some of what Michigan has lost due to climate change, pointing to severe weather events, risks to agriculture and last winter’s short ski season and canceled sled dog races.

The department is asking outside lawyers to submit proposals to help with the case, which Nessel said could potentially bring billions to the state to address damages from climate change. Attorneys and law firms can submit proposals through June 5.

“A case like this is exhaustive in nature,” she told Interlochen Public Radio. “You’re going after Big Oil, so you need to have some support in terms of additional attorneys and support staff.”

Investigations in 2015 from Inside Climate News and the Los Angeles Times showed that companies such as Exxon knew about the dangers of greenhouse gas emissions for decades, but minimized those threats.

Last month, the House Committee on Oversight and Accountability referenced that reporting, saying that its own nearly three-year-long investigation gave a “rare glimpse into the extensive efforts undertaken by fossil fuel companies to deceive the public and investors about their knowledge of the effects of their products on climate change and to undermine efforts to curb greenhouse gas emissions.”

#Michigan wants fossil fuel companies to pay for climate change damages. #FossilFuelCompanies #BigOil #ClimateChange #ClimateLitigation

For instance, ahead of a recent congressional hearing, newly revealed documents showed that BP executives knew natural gas was contributing significantly to climate change but promoted it as a “bridge” fuel to replace coal.

Asked about Michigan’s plans to sue, Ryan Meyers, the American Petroleum Institute’s senior vice president and general counsel, said in an emailed statement that it is part of an “ongoing, coordinated campaign to wage meritless, politicized lawsuits against a foundational American industry and its workers.” Meyers added that climate policy should be handled in Congress, not the courts.

The attorney general’s department is working with state agencies to assess the impacts of climate change in Michigan.

Nessel said the state has successfully pursued similar legal efforts in the past, including against the opioid industry and chemical manufacturers that produce PFAS.

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So anothe r test for 'liberal democracy'. After the sinking of the giant oil tankerValdez off the Alaska coast, and the subsequent court judgement of liability, Exxon managed to not pay a cent. Will mutlinationals pay this time, like tobacco companies, or will we see the limits of lberal democracy again? Don't really know.

Bravo! The list of lawsuits cited in this article is impressive. Please support the Sue Big Oil campaign in Canada:

Somehow the irony has escaped the critics.

This is Michigan, the world home to the Almighty Car, to Motordom, to Autotopia.

Motown received its moniker from the root "motor" though it pertains to a unique music that influenced muscicians all over the world.

Ontario's auto industry is a big branch plant of Michigan's historical role of ground zero for cars that happened to jump over the Ambassador Bridge.

Suing Big Oil will also be a slap in the face of Big Car. Maybe that's a good thing considering that nothing destroys cities better than car dependency and the freeways and funding sinkhole that car/road infrastructure imposes on public budgets. Michigan lawmakers had best be advised to calculate how much of their industry still runs on gasoline.

There are a lot of burner cars out there -- not to mention regular burner vacation flights -- that have captured every generation since 1950 without exception, including Gen Xers and Millennials who seem to blame Boomers for all the ills of the planet while enjoying oil's conveniences as much as anyone else.

The pipes in question include one or two biggies that supply Ontario's gas and liquid petroleum fuels which, for cost reasons, the Canadian companies decided to run through parts of the US.

The chickens are coming home to roost aided by Doug Ford whose role in life as premier is to work for his donors instead of Ontario's common good. Is Doug even paying attention to Michigan?

Joe Biden's policies are nibbling away at the hegemony of Big Oil and Big Car. EVs and recent battery tech are about to disrupt Big Oil through economics alone. Improving the grid will arguably benefit society a lot more than EVs when upgraded to carry huge volumes of clean electricity with a very large storage capacity. EVs will probably break Big Oil's grip on society better than lawsuits (economics again). But EVs are not fundamentally good for sustainable urbanism and walkable communities in the long run and should not be seen as something more than temporary

Instead, the benefits of the best battery tech oriented to the grid (sodium chemistry is now appearing, and it's revolutionary) will arguably have a more profound effect on electrifying our economy than lawsuits that may fail and tonnes of rhetoric by well meaning people who will turn against all reason and vote for a ragemeister and liar like Poilievre only because they're angry with Trudeau for being weak on climate.

Politics is like that. It refects the most transitory human feelings more than reason and logic. We need to do better.