Green, civil rights groups want ExxonMobil investigated over climate change ‘lies’

Lisa Neff, Staff writer

The leaders of many of the nation’s largest environmental and civil rights organizations issued a joint letter calling on the U.S. Department of Justice to investigate ExxonMobil.

The groups say the company knew about climate change as early as the 1970s, but decided to mislead the public to maximize profits from fossil fuels.

“Despite Exxon’s wealth and power, people were eager to sign on to this statement,” said Bill McKibben, co-founder of 350.org. “Anyone who’s lived through 25 years of phony climate debate or who’s seen the toll climate change is already taking on the most vulnerable communities, has been seething at these revelations. It reminds me of the spirit at the start of the Keystone battle.”

Groups ranging from the Audubon Society to the Foundation of Women in Hip Hop signed the letter, which followed reports by the Los Angeles Times and the Pulitzer-prize-winning InsideClimate News indicating the oil company knew about the dangers of climate change even as it funded efforts promoting climate-change denial.

The letter states, “Given the damage that has already occurred from climate change — particularly in the poorest communities of our nation and our planet — and that will certainly occur going forward, these revelations should be viewed with the utmost apprehension. They are reminiscent — though potentially much greater in scale — than similar revelations about the tobacco industry.”

Democratic presidential candidates Hillary Rodham Clinton and Bernie Sanders also called on the Justice Department to act.