The "Exxon Knew" campaign launched by NY State Attorney General Schneiderman last year, is turning into in the first serious attempt to bring those responsible for climate change to justice.
Attorney Generals from 20 states have joined to prosecute ExxonMobil and the fossil industry. Given the size and power of the industry, states have to work together to bring them to justice.
The coalition currently consists of: California, Connecticut, District of Columbia, Illinois, Iowa, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, Rhode Island, Virginia, Vermont, Washington state, and US Virgin Islands.
Many of these states are also working together to transition away from fossil fuels.
"Fossil fuel companies that deceived investors and the public about the dangers of climate change should be, must be held accountable," says Maura Healey, Massachusetts Attorney General (AG).
"It is troubling that, as the polar caps melt, there are companies that are looking at that as an opportunity to go and drill, to go and get more oil. How selfish can you be?," asks Earl Walker, US Virgin Islands AG. "Your product is destroying this Earth, and you want to do what? Destroy the planet further?"
It’s About Time
We’ve been asking ourselves this question for decades. Over that time, we have witnessed the hundreds of millions of dollars pour in to confuse the public and to keep legislators on the side of misinformation.
It started in November, when NY State AG Eric Schneiderman began investigating Exxon when reports showed it was well aware of the danger of climate change in the late 1970s. Exxon not only hid the information from lawmakers and the public, it spent at least $100 million to confuse society on the subject to keep its profits flowing.
"Climate change is a hoax." "The climate is always changing." "Temperatures haven’t risen in 15 years." "Scientists aren’t certain about climate change" are among the many misinformed statements that have been repeated so often by politicians that the public still ranks climate low on their list of concerns.
And all this happens while Arctic ice is at its lowest level ever; we’re losing the Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets; the ocean is acidifying, killing marine life and coral reefs; and animals and plants are moving north as fast as possible. Then there’s the intensifying droughts, floods, wildfires – none of this bothers anyone?
That’s what the power of misinformation has accomplished thanks to the fossil fuel industry, which includes Exxon and peers, trade associations, and the Koch Brothers’ vast network.
"Big Polluters have done everything in their power to deny climate change, it is time for our justice system to take back the climate debate," says Annie Leonard, Executive Director of Greenpeace USA.
AGs are using the tobacco trials from the 1990s as a guide. It was attorney general investigations that resulted in high profile lawsuits that stopped Big Tobacco’s lies about the dangers of their products. AGs were able to shut down their front groups and force the industry to pay billons of dollars for their deception.
As the world’s second biggest polluter, Exxon alone is responsible for 3.1% of the greenhouse gases in the atmosphere.
California Law Would Help
In California, the Climate Science Truth & Accountability Act has been introduced by Sen. Ben Allen (D-Santa Monica).
If passed, the law would make it much easier to prosecute climate crimes. It extends the statute of limitations under California’s Unfair Competition Law from four to 30 years, allowing prosecutors to file civil charges for fossil company activities going back decades, explains InsideClimate News.
Read our article, Corporations Step Up For Climate, As Exxon is Exposed
Check out this website: