The U.S. Department of Justice has referred to the FBI’s criminal division a request by two congressmen for a federal probe into ExxonMobil funding of climate denial.
Reaction from environmental groups …
RL Miller, cofounder of Climate Hawks Vote, responded, “Thanks to Rep. Ted Lieu and his determination, the FBI is finally going to see all the evidence — how Exxon publicly distorted science, funded deniers to further manipulate public opinion and set back political will decades.”
At the Center for International Environmental Law, president Carroll Muffett said, “The formal referral by the Department of Justice means that the FBI must now take real steps to evaluate the serious allegations against ExxonMobil. The bureau will do so amid a growing body of evidence that Exxon was well aware of the threats of climate change, even as it publicly distorted these threats by funding misinformation campaigns.
Muffett continued, "The timing of this revelation is particularly significant for Exxon, which just brought to market its biggest bond sale on record — $12 billion — in the midst of an ongoing crash in global oil prices. Exxon already faces a potential downgrade from ratings agency Standard & Poor’s. The referral demonstrates for both the public and investors that the legal risks facing Exxon and other fossil fuel producers are real, they are significant, and they are now imminent. The bad news for Exxon is that the disclosures to date are only the tip of what is almost certainly a very large iceberg of documentary evidence.”
“ExxonMobil's climate deceit, built on decades of knowingly false statements to federal and state officials and the public, was no garden-variety consumer fraud,” said Brad Campbell, president of the Conservation Law Foundation. “It cries out for FBI scrutiny because it has put lives and property at risk on a scale equal to the corporation's global reach.”
“This FBI investigation must quickly lead back to a full Department of Justice inquiry and, ultimately, legal action. There’s too much public pressure and action by state Attorney Generals for this case to disappear into a bureaucratic black hole. Exxon knew about climate change, they misled the public, and it’s time for them to be held to criminal account,” said 350.org communications director Jamie Henn.
“Exxon has already cost us decades of meaningful climate action and policy thanks to its colossal climate denial operation. This development is a step in the right direction to holding it legally accountable,” said Naomi Ages, Greenpeace US climate liability campaigner. “We expect the FBI and the Department of Justice to give this investigation the attention demanded by the American public.”
“ExxonMobil has built its profits by destroying our planet. With the latest science telling us that the world needs to keep more than 80 percent of its fossil fuels in the ground it is clear that this business model must end. What’s also becoming clear is that ExxonMobil has known this for decades and they lied to the American people about climate change in order to protect their ill-gotten gains. We welcome the FBI’s criminal investigation into ExxonMobil’s misconduct,” said Ben Schreiber, of Friends of the Earth-US.