One of the largest climate science groups in the world has decided to review and possibly reconsider its decision to stay connected with ExxonMobil, as anti-fossil fuel lawmakers continue to harangue the group over the connection.
The American Geophysical Union (AGU), which boasts more than 62,000 members worldwide, is vowing to review and possibly reconsider a decision it made in April to continue its relationship with Exxon after Democratic legislators Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse and Rep. Ted Lieu pressured the group to divorce from the company.
The two lawmakers argued in a letter on Tuesday to AGU that it must purge itself of any affiliation with Exxon because the company, the letter states, consistently claims to support a carbon tax while supposedly financially backing groups skeptical of man-made global warming.
The lawmakers said they are “disappointed” by AGU’s initial decision because the group was supposedly cowed by Exxon’s promises to back carbon taxes.
AGU President Margaret Leinen replied in a blog post on the group’s website, saying, in part, she has informed the lawmakers “that when we assess ExxonMobil’s actions, AGU must look at what they are saying and doing about the science, and not at potential legislation that we cannot take a position on, such as a carbon tax.”
So instead of considering the actions Exxon intended on taking to reduce the carbon emissions Whitehouse and Lieu think contribute to so-called man-made global warming, Leinen and AGU will only consider the financial contributions the company may or may not have made several years ago to groups skeptical of man-made global warming.
AGU made its decision to stay with Exxon in April, and stuck with it even after receiving a barrage of complaints from climate scientists James Hansen, Michael E. Mann, and Kerry Emanuel. AGU addressed the complaints in a February blog post, arguing at the time “that ExxonMobil’s current public statements and activities were not inconsistent with AGU’s positions and the scientific consensus.”
The oil company gave AGU $35,000 in 2015 to sponsor a breakfast meeting for students that year.
Critics contend those browbeating AGU are part of a coordinated campaign to attack scientific organizations, energy companies, and individual scientists.
Katie Brown, a spokesperson for Energy In Depth, told The Daily Caller News Foundation Thursday that those pushing this anti-Exxon campaign have received sharp criticism from editorial boards of major news outlets, which have called the legal basis ‘flimsy,’ a ‘dangerous arrogation of power’ and an ‘evisceration of the First Amendment.’”
Whitehouse has been unrelenting in his attacks both against Exxon and the fossil fuel industry in general. He stood in front of the U.S. Senate on Wednesday and marked what he called similarities between the so-called irresponsible actions of the oil industry and those made by the tobacco industry during the 1980s.
“There are obvious similarities between the fossil fuel industries’ denial of its product’s climate effects and the tobacco industries’ denial of its products’ health effects,” Whitehouse said Wednesday on Capitol Hill.”
“These similarities are sufficient that a proper inquiry should be made about pursuing a civil lawsuit,” Whitehouse said, adding, “I have made that suggestion and wow did that set off an outburst. The right wing climate denial outfits and the fossil fuel industry mouthpieces went into high gear.”
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