Quantcast
Environmental News for a Healthier Planet and Life

Help Support EcoWatch

3 Reasons We Oppose a Congressional Move to Protect Exxon

Climate

By Annie Leonard and May Boeve

It's an unprecedented move to demand that 17 Attorneys General, as well as environmental and non-profit groups, including Greenpeace USA and 350.org, turn over internal documents and communications related to our work to expose Exxon's climate denial. But that's what Rep. Lamar Smith and other Republican members of the House Committee on Science, Space and Technology did a couple months back.

Greenpeace / Rex Curry

Every one of us has declined to comply, pointing out numerous troubling legal issues that the committee and Chairman Smith choose to ignore. Rep. Smith has continued to disregard these concerns, as well as our offer to engage in further dialogue, demanding our constitutionally protected communications. Communications that serve the public interest, unlike Chairman Smith's demands.

Not to be outdone, Rep. Smith is now trying a more aggressive approach, by issuing subpoenas to the Attorneys General of New York and Massachusetts and the same groups targeted in the first three rounds of over-reaching demands.

We have declined to comply with those subpoenas and here's why:

Constitutional Rights Violations

Chairman Smith and his Republican Committee colleagues bombastically claim that their crusade is to protect ExxonMobil's First Amendment rights, as well as those of so-called scientists and front groups that deny climate change. Actually, no one is restricting their freedom of speech. The Attorneys General investigations are aimed at determining whether or not Exxon committed fraud by sowing doubt about climate change after recent investigative reports confirmed that it has known for decades the serious dangers climate change posed.

At the same time, the Republican members of Congress behind this charade are in fact infringing on our freedom of speech. They are asking independent organizations dedicated to protecting the environment to disclose our constitutionally protected communications, in order to silence our voices about Exxon's role in climate denialism.

Ironic, isn't it?

Lack of Jurisdiction Over Ongoing Investigations

The House Committee on Science, Space and Technology has no right to meddle with investigations being conducted by state law enforcement authorities. The mandate of the New York and Massachusetts Attorneys General is completely independent from the federal government. That's the basis of our democracy.

Investigations into Exxon must ensue; only then will the American people be closer to knowing the truth about what the company and the whole fossil fuel industry did to put their profits over people and the planet. We acknowledge and support the work these Attorneys General started based upon revelations from the media and non-profit organizations.

Vague, Overbroad and Unreasonably Burdensome Requests

Rep. Smith and other Committee Republicans are not asking for something specific—nor do they have a good reason for their demands. Rather, they have asked for all of our communications since 2012 relating to investigations into Exxon's colossal climate denial scheme. They're hoping it will take a very considerable amount of resources from our organizations to review and produce these documents.

This is a tactic from the corporate playbook to turn attention away from the actual investigations into Exxon and to make it too burdensome for non-profit organizations with limited resources, such as ours, to continue our cause.

As we have reiterated in our responses to Rep. Smith, we will always cooperate with any authorized and legitimate inquiry of Congress or anyone else. This is not one of those inquiries.

We demand accountability, not only from Exxon and its enablers on climate denial, but also of our elected representatives who seem to be protecting corporations over people's rights.

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

By Michael Svoboda

The enduring pandemic will make conventional forms of travel difficult if not impossible this summer. As a result, many will consider virtual alternatives for their vacations, including one of the oldest forms of virtual reality – books.

Read More Show Less
Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility on Thursday accused NOAA of ignoring its own scientists' findings about the endangerment of the North Atlantic right whale. Lauren Packard / Flickr / CC BY 2.0

By Julia Conley

As the North Atlantic right whale was placed on the International Union for Conservation of Nature's list of critically endangered species Thursday, environmental protection groups accusing the U.S. government of bowing to fishing and fossil fuel industry pressure to downplay the threat and failing to enact common-sense restrictions to protect the animals.

Read More Show Less
Pexels

By Beth Ann Mayer

Since even moderate-intensity workouts offer a slew of benefits, walking is a good choice for people looking to stay healthy.

Read More Show Less
Much of Eastern Oklahoma, including most of Tulsa, remains an Indian reservation, the Supreme Court ruled on Thursday. JustTulsa / CC BY 2.0

Much of Eastern Oklahoma, including most of Tulsa, remains an Indian reservation, the Supreme Court ruled on Thursday.

Read More Show Less
The Firefly Watch project is among the options for aspiring citizen scientists to join. Mike Lewinski / Wikimedia Commons / CC by 2.0

By Tiffany Means

Summer and fall are great seasons to enjoy the outdoors. But if you're already spending extra time outside because of the COVID-19 pandemic, you may be out of ideas on how to make fresh-air activities feel special. Here are a few suggestions to keep both adults and children entertained and educated in the months ahead, many of which can be done from the comfort of one's home or backyard.

Read More Show Less
People sit at the bar of a restaurant in Austin, Texas, on June 26, 2020. Texas Governor Greg Abbott ordered bars to be closed by noon on June 26 and for restaurants to be reduced to 50% occupancy. Coronavirus cases in Texas spiked after being one of the first states to begin reopening. SERGIO FLORES / AFP via Getty Images

The coronavirus may linger in the air in crowded indoor spaces, spreading from one person to the next, the World Health Organization acknowledged on Thursday, as The New York Times reported. The announcement came just days after 239 scientists wrote a letter urging the WHO to consider that the novel coronavirus is lingering in indoor spaces and infecting people, as EcoWatch reported.

Read More Show Less

Trending

A never-before-documented frog species has been discovered in the Peruvian highlands and named Phrynopus remotum. Germán Chávez

By Angela Nicoletti

The eastern slopes of the Andes Mountains in central Perú are among the most remote places in the world.

Read More Show Less