Quantcast
Environmental News for a Healthier Planet and Life

Help Support EcoWatch

Bernie Sanders Demands DOJ Go After Exxon for 'Covering Up' Climate Change

Energy

Arguing the oil giant's behavior may "ultimately qualify as a violation of federal law," Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) on Tuesday joined a chorus of voices calling on the U.S. Department of Justice to launch an official fraud investigation into Exxon Mobil's decades-long efforts to suppress the scientific connection between carbon emissions and climate change.

"Based on available public information, 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. The information that has come to light about Exxon’s past activities raises potentially serious concerns that should be investigated," Sanders wrote in a letter to Attorney General Loretta Lynch.

"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 added in a statement.

Sanders, who is running for president in 2016 as a Democrat, cited a recent investigation by Inside Climate News that revealed Exxon may have known about climate change and the role of fossil fuels in exacerbating global warming as far back as 1977 and spent millions of dollars funding a misinformation campaign to cast doubt on scientific information as it emerged to the public.

The resulting harm to the environment and public health are akin to the effects of the tobacco industry, which similarly denied the dangers of cigarettes for years, Sanders said. That industry was ultimately tamed by convictions through the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) Act.

One of the prosecutors who helped win the case against Big Tobacco echoed that call on Tuesday, telling ThinkProgress, "I think a RICO action is plausible and should be considered" against Exxon.

"It appears to me, based on what we know so far, that there was a concerted effort by Exxon and others to confuse the public on climate change," Sharon Eubanks said. "They were actively denying the impact of human-caused carbon emissions, even when their own research showed otherwise."

Citing Lynch's recent pledge to take a stronger stance again corporate crime, Sanders called for the creation of a investigative task force in relation to the allegations against Exxon.

With his letter, Sanders joined a growing number of lawmakers and activists demanding federal investigation into Exxon's climate denial efforts. U.S. Reps. from California Ted Lieu (D-Los Angeles) and Mark DeSaulnier (D-Walnut Creek) penned a similar missive to Lynch last week, writing, "If these allegations against Exxon are true, then Exxon's actions were immoral ... We request the DOJ investigate whether ExxonMobil's actions were also illegal."

Lieu also compared Exxon's actions to those of the tobacco industry. ""Exxon's situation is even worse," Lieu told the Los Angeles Times last Wednesday. "It was taking advantage of the science ... while denying the facts to the public."

The congressmen's letter came on the same day climate activist and 350.org co-founder Bill McKibben staged a one-man protest at an Exxon gas station in Burlington, Vermont, where he blocked a gas pump until being arrested, and told media that "We need to let people know what we now know about Exxon Mobil. In a noisy world, this may be what we have to do."

McKibben called Exxon's mission to suppress climate information for the corporation's own gain "unparalleled evil." He and Lieu appeared on Democracy Now! today calling for a DOJ investigation.

"It's difficult to think of a company that could have set back humanity for decades, and perhaps permanently," Lieu said. "But that's what happened here."

YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE

Bill McKibben Gets Arrested Exposing Exxon’s ‘Unparalleled Evil’

Don’t Let Wall Street Leave You Behind: It’s Time to Divest From Fossil Fuels

Columbia Students Pledge to Engage in Civil Disobedience Unless University Divests From Fossil Fuels

Oslo Becomes First Capital City in the World to Divest From Fossil Fuels

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

A man pushes his mother in a wheelchair down Ocean Drive in South Beach, Miami on May 19, 2020, amid the novel coronavirus pandemic. CHANDAN KHANNA / AFP via Getty Images

The U.S. reported more than 55,000 new coronavirus cases on Thursday, in a sign that the outbreak is not letting up as the Fourth of July weekend kicks off.

Read More Show Less
To better understand how people influence the overall health of dolphins, Oklahoma State University's Unmanned Systems Research Institute is developing a drone to collect samples from the spray that comes from their blowholes. Ken Y. / CC by 2.0

By Jason Bruck

Human actions have taken a steep toll on whales and dolphins. Some studies estimate that small whale abundance, which includes dolphins, has fallen 87% since 1980 and thousands of whales die from rope entanglement annually. But humans also cause less obvious harm. Researchers have found changes in the stress levels, reproductive health and respiratory health of these animals, but this valuable data is extremely hard to collect.

Read More Show Less

Sunscreen pollution is accelerating the demise of coral reefs globally by causing permanent DNA damage to coral. gonzalo martinez / iStock / Getty Images Plus

On July 29, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis signed into law a controversial bill prohibiting local governments from banning certain types of sunscreens.

Read More Show Less
Oat milk is popping up at coffee shops and grocery stores alike, quickly becoming one of the trendiest plant-based milks. jacqueline / CC by 2.0

By Kelli McGrane

Oat milk is popping up at coffee shops and grocery stores alike, quickly becoming one of the trendiest plant-based milks.

Read More Show Less

"Emissions from pyrotechnic displays are composed of numerous organic compounds as well as metals," a new study reports. Nodar Chernishev / EyeEm / Getty Images

Fireworks have taken a lot of heat recently. In South Dakota, fire experts have said President Trump's plan to hold a fireworks show is dangerous and public health experts have criticized the lack of plans to enforce mask wearing or social distancing. Now, a new study shows that shooting off fireworks at home may expose you and your family to dangerous levels of lead, copper and other toxins.

Read More Show Less
Billions worth of valuable metals such as gold, silver and copper were dumped or burned last year as electronic waste produced globally jumped to a record 53.6 million tons. Curtis Palmer / CC by 2.0

By Ashutosh Pandey

Billions worth of valuable metals such as gold, silver and copper were dumped or burned last year as electronic waste produced globally jumped to a record 53.6 million tons (Mt), or 7.3 kilogram per person, a UN report showed on Thursday.

Read More Show Less

Trending

A women walks with COVID-19 care kits distributed by Boston's Office of Neighborhood Services in Boston, Massachusetts on May 28, 2020. The pandemic has led to a rise in single-use plastic items, but reusable bags and cloth masks can be two ways to reduce waste. JOSEPH PREZIOSO / AFP via Getty Images

This month is Plastic Free July, the 31 days every year when millions of people pledge to give up single-use plastics.

Read More Show Less