One of the groups involved in a year-long crusade against Exxon Mobil wants confirmation hearings for President-elect Donald Trump’s secretary of state pick to be a public trial on the company’s history of climate research.
Peter Frumhoff, the director of science and policy at the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS), told reporters Wednesday that Rex Tillerson’s hearings should be devoted to holding Exxon responsible for hiding years of climate research.
He also said that Exxon’s policies under Tillerson’s leadership showed the company only supports policy ideas like carbon taxes when it’s expedient for its bottom line.
Frumhoff described Exxon’s strategy as, “We agree with the I.P.C.C. on climate science — except where it’s inconvenient.” He said Exxon is supporting carbon taxes to gain credibility among environmentalists.
Frumhoff’s group has been deeply involved in investigations of whether Exxon hid from investors and the public knowledge about how climate change affected the company’s bottom line.
UCS attended meetings, for instance, in April with New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman about effective ways to go after Exxon for allegedly engaging in fraud. The meeting raises concerns Frumhoff’s group cavorted with government agencies to hamper one of the fossil fuel industry’s biggest oil producers.
Schneiderman launched an investigation into Exxon’s actions in November 2015, shortly after the meeting. The New York Democrat was “demanding extensive financial records, emails and other documents” from the oil producer dating all the way back to the 1970s.
The probe is partially the result of an investigation into Exxon’s history on climate research conducted by InsideClimate News. The outlet also argues Amoco, Phillips, Texaco, Shell, and others joined Exxon in misleading the public.
The media cheered InsideClimate News’s reports even though its chief benefactor, the billionaire Rockefeller Family Fund, colluded with several environmentalist groups to take the oil company.
Some Democratic senators have attempted to draw links between Exxon’s actions and those of the tobacco industry in the 1980s.
Democratic Sens. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts and Rhode Island’s Sheldon Whitehouse, for example, wrote a letter in May suggesting efforts by Republicans to stymie the Exxon investigation “reprises the tobacco lawsuit’s own early history of efforts from Congress to discourage or interfere with that lawsuit in order to protect the tobacco industry.”
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