Eco-Activists Admit To Quietly Plotting Anti-Exxon Investigation For Years

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Michael Bastasch DCNF Managing Editor
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Eco-activists who briefed state prosecutors investigating ExxonMobil for allegedly misleading the public on global warming have admitted to a left-wing media outlet they have been working for years to take down the oil giant.

In the wake of emails released showing collusion between state attorneys general and environmental activists at a January meeting, some of the activists involved have come forward to justify pushing state prosecutors to investigate Exxon and any groups skeptical of global warming that may be affiliated with the oil company.

“I’m a scientist,” Peter Frumhoff, the director of science policy at the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS), told InsideClimate News. “I do research on—and have been writing about—the question of contribution of emissions from fossil fuel companies to climate change, and their role in questions of their responsibilities. I was invited to brief the attorneys general that gathered on March 29 on my work, and that is what I did.”

“Things are happening at an incredible speed now,” echoed Carroll Muffett, president of the Center for International Environmental Law (CIEL), adding that there are “overlapping groups of movements and groups of campaigns coming together because they share a common interest in bringing the truth to light.”

Frumhoff and Muffett attended a January meeting hosted by New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman in New York City to bring together like-minded state AGs to push federal regulations and join together to investigate Exxon for its stance on global warming.

Interestingly enough, InsideClimate News is the very media outlet that published a series of articles claiming Exxon knew about the dangers of global warming for decades, but funded groups skeptical of global warming to push back against onerous federal regulations. Columbia University published similar articles.

Schneiderman and AGs from California, Massachusetts and the U.S. Virgin Islands have used InsideClimate’s reporting to justify investigating Exxon. Now, the probe has moved beyond Exxon alone and ensared a libertarian think tank and prominent D.C.-based public relations firm.

But as InsideClimate New notes, activists’ plan encourages legal action against oil companies for causing global warming. InsideClimate dug up a document from a 2012 workshop hosted by UCS and the Climate Accountability Institute in California entitled “Climate Accountability, Public Opinion, and Legal Strategies.”

The document says there was “nearly unanimous agreement on the importance of legal actions,” between activists who participated in the meeting. Some activists said “pressure from the courts offers the best current hope for gaining the energy industry’s cooperation in converting to renewable energy,” InsideClimate News reported.

Frumhoff helped organize the workshop and Matt Pawa, an activist attorney who’s previously sued Exxon over global warming, also attended the workshop. Pawa briefed state AGs in January at the event hosted by Schneiderman.

“It is possible to see glimmers of an emerging consensus on a strategy that incorporates legal action [for document procurement and accountability] with a narrative that creates public outrage,” according to the workshop document.

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