Powerful evidence has surfaced in recent weeks that ExxonMobil not only recognized climate change decades ago, it put those beliefs into action, basing company decisions on the available science. At the same time, however, the oil giant urged policymakers around the world not to address the intensifying climate crisis that its own scientists and engineers recognized.
The developments have led to some striking reports, which have caught the attention of Democratic lawmakers on Capitol Hill. In fact, The New Republic’s Rebecca Leber reported the other day that quite a few congressional Dems believe there are grounds for a federal criminal investigation.
California Democrats on the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee requested a Department of Justice investigation into ExxonMobil on Wednesday, writing that the company’s behavior “is similar to cigarette companies that repeatedly denied harm from tobacco and spread uncertainty and misleading information to the public.” […]
“We ask that the DOJ similarly investigate ExxonMobil for organizing a sustained deception campaign disputing climate science and failing to disclose truthful information to investors and the public,” they wrote, according to a letter provided to the New Republic. “We request the DOJ investigate whether ExxonMobil violated RICO, consumer protection, truth in advertising, public health, shareholder protection, or other laws.
House Dems aren’t alone. Yesterday, Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.) delivered remarks on the Senate floor, also raising the prospect of a civil RICO investigation targeting ExxonMobil if the company “actively misled” the public.
Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), a prominent presidential candidate, is also getting engaged on this, yesterday urging the Justice Department to investigate ExxonMobil for a “potential instance of corporate fraud.”
“Exxon Mobil knew the truth about fossil fuels and climate change and lied to protect their business model at the expense of the planet,” Sanders argued. Like House Democrats last week, the Vermont senator equated ExxonMobil’s alleged misconduct with =the tobacco industry’s claims about the health risks associated with smoking.
It appears this story isn’t going to just fade away.