Democratic presidential candidate Sen. [crscore]Bernard Sanders[/crscore] sent a letter to the Department of Justice urging it to investigate claims levied by liberal news outlets that the oil giant Exxon Mobil “covered up” evidence about man-made global warming.
“It appears that Exxon knew its product was causing harm to the public, and spent millions of dollars to obfuscate the facts in the public discourse,” Sanders wrote to Attorney General Loretta Lynch. “The information that has come to light about Exxon’s past activities raises potentially serious concerns that should be investigated.”
Sander’s argues that reporting by journalists with liberal outlet Inside Climate News (ICN) shows Exxon “scientists both that climate change is real and that it was caused in part by carbon pollution” from the company’s oil and gas operations. Sanders has now joined the ranks of environmentalists and academics calling for federal investigations into fossil fuel companies funding studies and groups skeptical of man-made global warming.
ICN alleges that not only did Exxon’s own research find that global warming is caused by fossil fuels, it buried the research to protect its business interests. Exxon put “muscle behind efforts to manufacture doubt about the reality of global warming its own scientists had once confirmed,” ICN reported.
Since ICN’s report came out, there’s been a renewed effort to get the Obama administration to prosecute or investigate fossil fuel companies skeptical of global warming.
Environmentalist Bill McKibben argues that “as early as the late 1970s, Exxon scientists were briefing top executives that climate change was real, dangerous, and caused by their product” adding that in “the early 1980s, their own climate models were predicting—with great accuracy—the track the global temperature has taken ever since.”
“Should the DOJ muster its courage to go after this most profitable and connected of companies, the roadmap is already well laid out by the two investigations,” McKibben said in The Nation.
Before ICN’s reporting gained traction, Democratic lawmakers launched their own investigations into fossil fuel interests skeptical of global warming. Rhode Island Democratic Sen. [crscore]Sheldon Whitehouse[/crscore] even called for the government to use the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO) to prosecute skeptical groups.
“In 1999, the Justice Department filed a civil RICO lawsuit against the major tobacco companies… alleging that the companies ‘engaged in and executed — and continue to engage in and execute — a massive 50-year scheme to defraud the public, including consumers of cigarettes, in violation of RICO,’” Whitehouse wrote in the Washington Post in May.
Ironically, Exxon is not a group that’s skeptical of global warming. The company supports taxing carbon dioxide emissions and uses an internal carbon price as part of their economic and financial forecasting.
Exxon says market-based efforts are the best ways to address global warming, but the company “is taking action by reducing greenhouse gas emissions in its operations, helping consumers reduce their emissions, supporting research, and participating in constructive dialogue on policy options.”
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