Amidst hottest month in recorded history, groups vow to hold Exxon accountable for ongoing deception
Washington, DC — Today, 350.org and Greenpeace USA formally objected to a vague and over-reaching subpoena put forward by House Committee on Science, Space and Technology Chairman Lamar Smith (R-TX). The subpoena is just the latest attempt by Exxon’s Congressional allies to chill the work of climate justice organizations to hold Exxon and the fossil fuel industry accountable for their decades of climate deception.
Despite all parties repeatedly offering to engage in further dialogue, Rep. Smith quickly issued a total of 10 subpoenas to groups including 350.org, Greenpeace USA, and other nongovernmental organizations, as well as to the attorneys general of New York and Massachusetts around their investigations to determine if Exxon committed fraud.
Both the New York and Massachusetts attorneys general rejected the Committee’s subpoenas. Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren defended Attorney General Maura Healey’s investigation, describing Rep. Smith’s actions as “an outrageous abuse of Congressional subpoena power.”
Rep. Smith has issued more subpoenas in his less than three years as Chairman than the Committee has in its entire 54 years of existence. Last fall, Rep. Smith baselessly attacked NOAA around a report that disproved the notion that global warming has slowed in the last decade, carrying out an obscene use of his subpoenas, his “favorite climate change denial tool.”
Rep. Smith’s acceptance of large donations from Big Oil and Gas adds a layer of concern to his history of baseless attacks against climate science. Since 1998, Rep. Smith has received a total of $675,597 from the fossil fuel industry, $19,500 which came directly from ExxonMobil. Since 2006, the Congressman has also received $52,000 from Koch Industries.
A recent report from the Center for International Environmental Law (CIEL) confirmed that not only did the tobacco and oil industries share a playbook on denial, but also that this playbook actually originated not with Big Tobacco but with Big Oil itself.
Last fall, investigative reports revealed Exxon’s own scientists warned the company’s executives about the dangers of fossil fuels, yet the corporation continued to pour resources into sowing doubt and blocking climate action. Exxon’s 2015 “Corporate Citizenship Report” showed that the company is still helping to fund an extensive web climate denial groups.
May Boeve, 350.org Executive Director said:
“Representative Smith seems more interested in violating our rights to free speech than he is in investigating Exxon’s potential fraud. And no wonder: he’s taken more than $675,000 from the oil and gas industry over his career. We’ve offered time again to meet with the Committee to discuss our concerns, but they’re only interested in seizing our internal documents and emails. We’ve got nothing to hide, but this McCarthy-like overreach sets a dangerous precedent.
During the hottest year on record, Congress should be going after the polluters, not the people. We’re going to keep fighting this subpoena and keep ramping up our campaign to hold Exxon and their friends accountable for their decades long campaign to mislead the public about the threat of climate change.”
Annie Leonard, Greenpeace USA Executive Director said:
“Representative Smith’s requests to Attorneys General and non-profit organizations are as meritless as his position on climate change. The American people know this Congressional subpoena is Rep. Smith’s signature move to turn attention away from the real issue at stake, which is the investigations into Exxon’s climate denial. If Rep. Smith or his Republican colleagues on the House Committee on Science, Space and Technology were really acting on behalf of the people and not the fossil fuel industry, they would have joined the call for the Department of Justice to investigate. Who do you really work for Rep. Smith, the American people or greedy corporations?”
Lindsay Meiman, 350.org, firstname.lastname@example.org, (347) 460-9082
Rodrigo Estrada, Greenpeace USA, email@example.com, (202) 478-6632
NOTES TO THE EDITOR:
The subpoena issued to Greenpeace USA on July 13 can be found here. Stable URL: http://www.greenpeace.org/usa/wp-content/uploads/2016/07/Subpoena-schedule-Leonard-Greenpeace-7-12-16.pdf
The subpoena issued to 350.org on July 13 can be found here. Stable URL: http://350.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/07/350.org-Subpoena.pdf
The official response submitted by 350.org and Greenpeace USA on July 27 can be found here. Stable URL: http://www.greenpeace.org/usa/wp-content/uploads/2016/07/GP-350-Response-to-Subpoena-7-27-16.pdf
For more information on the #ExxonKnew campaign, visit: exxonknew.platform350.org