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By Andy Rowell
What a difference a few months make. Last year Exxon was on the ropes, reeling from the news that the company was under investigation for lying to the public and shareholders about the risks of climate change in the scandal that has become known as #ExxonKnew.
Furthermore, last October Exxon faced the humiliation of having to publicly admit that it was on course to cut its reported proved reserves of oil and gas by nearly 20 percent.
Fast forward a few months and we have Trump the climate denier in the White House, Exxon's man, Rex Tillerson as Secretary of State, Scott Pruitt, a climate denier at the EPA and the prospect of Exxon being allowed back into the Russian Arctic if sanctions are lifted.
Life is looking up for Exxon.
And now comes the news that an East Texas lawmaker, State Rep. James White, R-Hillister, has drafted a bill which could prevent the company having to defend itself in the #ExxonKnew court cases as it would not allow a defendant's theories on climate change from being used as evidence in a fraud case.
The bill states: "Evidence relating to the defendant's theories, beliefs or statements on climate change or global warming, including causes of climate change or global warming, is not admissible as proof of an element of an offense involving:
1. Fraud or a fraudulent or deceptive practice; or
2. Any false or misleading statement, representation or information."
James White told the American-Statesman that when proposing the law, he had Exxon in mind. "There have been some instances where people could get thrown into court or even potentially threatened with some kind of criminal punishment based on their belief or scientific take on global warming," he said. "I don't think that's how science should operate."
At the moment White's bill only relates to Texan law and the company faces other criminal cases, not least in Massachusetts and New York. Last month a Massachusetts judge refused to excuse Exxon from a request by the state's Attorney General to hand over decades worth of documents on climate change.
The decision by Massachusetts Superior Court Judge Heidi Brieger was seen as a significant legal victory for the Attorney General, Maura Healey and a setback for the oil giant.
After the ruling Healey said on Twitter: "This order affirms our longstanding authority to investigate fraud," adding that Exxon "must come clean about what it knew about climate change."
But last week, Exxon applied to have this case moved to Texas, arguing that the attorney general had abused the company's rights to free speech and that the investigation constituted an unreasonable search and seizure of corporate documents.
The legal move came the same day as Rex Tillerson was sworn in as Secretary of State.
"When out-of-state officials reach into Texas to violate the constitutional rights of a resident, it is proper for that resident to seek relief in Texas courts," the Exxon brief states.
Exxon also said that Texas should hear the case brought by the New York state's Attorneys General Schneiderman. Last week Politico magazine ran a feature on Schneiderman, saying: Will This Man Take Down Donald Trump?
The must-read article reveals how the two men have been at war for years and not just on climate, but also over Trump University and the Trump Foundation.
"We are facing a crisis, not over conservative or liberal, but a crisis over whether or not the rule of law is respected or not, over whether the Constitution is respected or not and whether the central American notion of equal justice under the law and that everyone be treated with dignity and equality and fairness—all that is at issue now," Schneidermann told a crowd after Trump's election.
We also face a climate crisis. And for many people Exxon remains the number one villain and the company should be forced to account for its decades long climate denial campaign in court.
Because all the evidence points to the fact that #ExxonKnew.
Reposted with permission from our media associate Oil Change International.
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Tuna auctions are a tourist spectacle in Tokyo. Outside the city's most famous fish market, long queues of visitors hoping for a glimpse of the action begin to form at 5 a.m. The attraction is so popular that last October the Tsukiji fish market, in operation since 1935, moved out from the city center to the district of Toyosu to cope with the crowds.
gmnicholas / E+ / Getty Images
Kristan Porter grew up in a fishing family in the fishing community of Cutler, Maine, where he says all roads lead to one career path: fishing. (Porter's father was the family's lone exception. He suffered from terrible seasickness, and so became a carpenter.) The 49-year-old, who has been working on boats since he was a kid and fishing on his own since 1991, says that the recent warming of Maine's cool coastal waters has yielded unprecedented lobster landings.
The climate crisis is getting costly. Some of the world's largest companies expect to take over one trillion in losses due to climate change. Insurers are increasingly jittery and the world's largest firm has warned that the cost of premiums may soon be unaffordable for most people. Historic flooding has wiped out farmers in the Midwest.
Hawaii's Kilauea volcano could be gearing up for an eruption after a pond of water was discovered inside its summit crater for the first time in recorded history, according to the AP.
'We Should Be Retreating Already From the Coastline,' Scientist Suggests After Finding Warm Waters Below Greenland
By Johnny Wood
The Ganges is a lifeline for the people of India, spiritually and economically. On its journey from the Himalayas to the Bay of Bengal, it supports fishermen, farmers and an abundance of wildlife.
The river and its tributaries touch the lives of roughly 500 million people. But having flowed for millennia, today it is reaching its capacity for human and industrial waste, while simultaneously being drained for agriculture and municipal use.
Here are some of the challenges the river faces.
By Jake Johnson
As a growing number of states move to pass laws that would criminalize pipeline protests and hit demonstrators with years in prison, an audio recording obtained by The Intercept showed a representative of a powerful oil and gas lobbying group bragging about the industry's success in crafting anti-protest legislation behind closed doors.
Speaking during a conference in Washington, DC in June, Derrick Morgan, senior vice president for federal and regulatory affairs at the American Fuel & Petrochemical Manufacturers (AFPM), touted "model legislation" that states across the nation have passed in recent months.
AFPM represents a number of major fossil fuel giants, including Chevron, Koch Industries and ExxonMobil.
"We've seen a lot of success at the state level, particularly starting with Oklahoma in 2017," said Morgan, citing Dakota Access Pipeline protests as the motivation behind the aggressive lobbying effort. "We're up to nine states that have passed laws that are substantially close to the model policy that you have in your packet."
Big Oil is now using its political power to try and criminalize protests of oil & gas infrastructure.— Friends of the Earth (@foe_us) August 19, 2019
"This legislation has potential to punish public participation and mischaracterize advocacy protected by the First Amendment."https://t.co/bmiHjONEhy
The audio recording comes just months after Texas Gov. Greg Abbott signed into law legislation that would punish anti-pipeline demonstrators with up to 10 years in prison, a move environmentalists condemned as a flagrant attack on free expression.
"Big Oil is hijacking our legislative system," Dallas Goldtooth of the Indigenous Environmental Network said after the Texas Senate passed the bill in May.
As The Intercept's Lee Fang reported Monday, the model legislation Morgan cited in his remarks "has been introduced in various forms in 22 states and passed in ... Texas, Louisiana, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Missouri, Indiana, Iowa, South Dakota, and North Dakota."
"The AFPM lobbyist also boasted that the template legislation has enjoyed bipartisan support," according to Fang. "In Louisiana, Democratic Gov. John Bel Edwards signed the version of the bill there, which is being challenged by the Center for Constitutional Rights. Even in Illinois, Morgan noted, 'We almost got that across the finish line in a very Democratic-dominated legislature.' The bill did not pass as it got pushed aside over time constraints at the end of the legislative session."
Many of the state bills restricting the right to protest have been "drafted by companies and passed through groups like ALEC, the secretive group of corporate lobbyists trying to rewrite state laws to benefit corporations over people." @greenpeaceusa https://t.co/ZxpTjWdrwT— Stand Up To ALEC (@StandUpToALEC) May 6, 2019
Reposted with permission from our media associate Common Dreams.