To: Loretta Lynch, U.S. Attorney General and President Donald Trump
Prosecute Exxon for Deliberate Climate Denial
Launch a RICO prosecution of Exxon and its fellow fossil-fuel companies for deliberate and malicious climate deception.
Why is this important?
The Pulitzer-winning InsideClimate News is running a blockbuster series with incontrovertible evidence—pulled from Exxon's own archives—that the oil giant's top executives were warned of possible catastrophe from greenhouse pollution, then led efforts to block solutions. Documents show that Exxon's own scientists were aware of and studying the dangerous impacts of greenhouse gases in the 1970s and 1980s—until Exxon's leadership decided to shut down the research and promote climate denial instead, in order to protect the company's unfathomably large profits.
We've known for years that the oil industry finances the climate-denial network of politicians, think tanks, and right-wing media in order to protect their gargantuan profits, but now we have sufficient evidence of deliberate deceit to make a federal investigation happen.
The United States Department of Justice has the power to prosecute Exxon's deliberate deception under the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) Act—just as DOJ sued the tobacco industry for knowingly lying about the dangers of cigarette smoking.
Even before these smoking-gun documents were released, climate hawks have been making calls for a RICO investigation of fossil-fueled climate denial. Three weeks ago, a group of top climate scientists called for an investigation (PDF), saying, "it is imperative that these misdeeds be stopped as soon as possible so that America and the world can get on with the critically important business of finding effective ways to restabilize the Earth's climate, before even more lasting damage is done."
Months earlier, climate hawk Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), a former state Attorney General, called for a RICO investigation of Big Oil, saying, "I don’t know whether the fossil fuel industry and its allies engaged in the same kind of racketeering activity as the tobacco industry. We don't have enough information to make that conclusion. Perhaps it's all smoke and no fire. But there’s an awful lot of smoke."
Thanks to the reporters at Inside Climate News, now we have smoking-gun documents found in public archives. And there's certain to be more. It's up to us to demand the U.S. government immediately launch an investigation that will lead to prosecution of Exxon's deliberate and deadly climate denial.