By Doug Porter
Twin tales of scheming and misleading by Exxon-Mobil executives seeking to suppress evidence of climate change for decades have emerged in recent weeks. Drawing on completely separate archives, Pulitzer-prize winning reporters at Inside Climate News and another team with the Los Angeles Times have reached the same conclusion: that the company ignored and suppressed data at odds with the continued expansion of the fossil fuel business.
In September, Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse, along with 20 climate scientists, called for an investigation of fossil fuel companies under the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) Act. Last week, members of the House Oversight And Government Reform Committee sent their own letter asking the Department of Justice to “investigate ExxonMobil for organizing a sustained deception campaign disputing climate science and failing to disclose truthful information to investors and the public.”
Media Matters for America is reporting on what appears to be a concerted campaign in the right-wing media to defend the “right” of fossil fuel companies to lie to the public. Assorted conservatives on Fox News, The Hill, The Blaze, Breitbart News, the Wall Street Journal and other media are claiming these calls for investigations amount to criminalization of policy differences.
As Bill McKibben pointed out in The Guardian, there’s substantial evidence of corporate malfeasance:
- By 1978 Exxon’s senior scientists were telling top management that climate change was real, caused by man, and would raise global temperatures by 2-3C this century, which was pretty much spot-on.
- By the early 1980s they’d validated these findings with shipborne measurements of CO2 (they outfitted a giant tanker with carbon sensors for a research voyage) and with computer models that showed precisely what was coming. As the head of one key lab at Exxon Research wrote to his superiors, there was “unanimous agreement in the scientific community that a temperature increase of this magnitude would bring about significant changes in the earth’s climate, including rainfall distribution and alterations in the biosphere”.
- And by the early 1990s their researchers studying the possibility for new exploration in the Arctic were well aware that human-induced climate change was melting the poles. Indeed, they used that knowledge to plan their strategy, reporting that soon the Beaufort Sea would be ice-free as much as five months a year instead of the historic two. Greenhouse gases are rising “due to the burning of fossil fuels,” a key Exxon researcher told an audience of engineers at a conference in 1991. “Nobody disputes this fact.”
But of course Exxon did dispute that fact. Not inside the company, where they used their knowledge to buy oil leases in the areas they knew would melt, but outside, where they used their political and financial might to make sure no one took climate change seriously.
Did Exxon-Mobil Knowingly Deceive the Public?
From Media Matters:
RICO Holds Accountable Those Who “Knowingly And Intentionally Engage In A Scheme To Defraud…For Purposes Of Financial Gain.”As Sen. Whitehouse, climate scientists, and House Members argued, the comparison of the proven racketeering of the tobacco industry to the alleged conspiracy of fossil fuel companies to deceive the public about climate change is striking. The 2006 federal court opinion that held these tobacco companies accountable explained what it takes to intentionally betray the public trust in violation of RICO:
Put more colloquially, and less legalistically, over the course of more than 50 years, Defendants lied, misrepresented, and deceived the American public, including smokers and the young people they avidly sought as “replacement smokers,” about the devastating health effects of smoking and environmental tobacco smoke, they suppressed research, they destroyed documents, they manipulated the use of nicotine so as to increase and perpetuate addiction, they distorted the truth about low tar and light cigarettes so as to discourage smokers from quitting, and they abused the legal system in order to achieve their goal — to make money with little, if any, regard for individual illness and suffering, soaring health costs, or the integrity of the legal system.
Lying is undoubtedly protected speech under the First Amendment. The consequences of lies are not a protected right…
Who Needs an Election?
Alabama Congressman Mo Brooks told The Hill on Monday that Hillary Clinton should be impeached for mishandling classified information.
Mind you, even though she’s the front-runner in many polls, she is currently not serving in any capacity relevant to the impeachment process.
Here’s the money quote, as far as I’m concerned:
“Why do you think Joe Biden is thinking about running for president?” Brooks asked. “To a large degree, he’s waiting to see if Hillary Clinton gets arrested or indicted.”
O Canada, Is That the Marijuana I Smell?
Our neighbors to the north have had it with austerity. Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s Conservatives were trounced by Liberal Party leader Justin Trudeau.
Trudeau was swept into office after promising to run up a $10 billion annual deficit for three years to invest in infrastructure and help stimulate Canada’s anemic economic growth.
Canada’s Liberal Party stands to the left on social issues and is generally considered to be more pro-business than the left-leaning New Democratic Party. So, while the incoming government will acknowledge the existence of climate change, for instance, they will continue to support construction of the XL pipeline.
There is one major policy shakeup in the works: marijuana legalization.
The policy was a big part of the Liberals’ campaign: “We will legalize, regulate, and restrict access to marijuana. Canada’s current system of marijuana prohibition does not work. It does not prevent young people from using marijuana and too many Canadians end up with criminal records for possessing small amounts of the drug.”
If marijuana were legalized in Canada, it would be a first among developed nations. In the US, four states and Washington, DC, have legalized pot, but it’s still illegal at the federal level. The only other country to fully legalize marijuana is the tiny developing nation of Uruguay. And although some countries — the Netherlands and Spain, in particular — have relaxed enforcement of their marijuana laws, none in the developed world have outright legalized it.
But this wouldn’t just be an important milestone for Canada and the world; it could also send ripples across the international system of drug policy. That’s because drug policy is tied not just to each country’s individual laws, but to a network of treaties that effectively make the war on drugs a global effort. Marijuana legalization in Canada would act as the most high-profile rejection of these treaties, sending an important signal of the changing times as the international agreements come under a critical review in a special 2016 session of the United Nations.
The End of the Benghazi Inquisition
I’m sure it will take a while for this to sink in, but the GOP’s grand plan to use a congressional investigation to bring down Hillary Clinton is on its last legs.
Here’s Bill Press via an op-ed in The Hill:
Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) and Committee Chairman Trey Gowdy (R-S.C.) should realize they’ve already lost this battle and Hillary Clinton has won it. When it’s over, no matter how hard Republicans pile on, they’ll only look worse — and Clinton will only look better.
Let’s start with the fact that there was no need for any Select Committee on Benghazi in the first place. That ground had already been plowed over and over again by the House Oversight Committee under the purview of then-Chairman Darrell Issa (R-Calif.), as well as other committees.
According to Politico, even before Boehner created the Select Committee, Benghazi had already been the subject of 13 congressional hearings, 25,000 pages of documents and 50 briefings — none of which uncovered any wrongdoing on Clinton’s part. In fact, a bipartisan report by the Senate Intelligence Committee concluded, “There were no efforts by the White House or any other executive branch entities to ‘cover-up’ facts or make alterations for political purposes.”
Then there’s the matter of the report by Democratic Members of the House Select Committee on Benghazi, summarizing the results of 54 transcribed interviews and depositions conducted by the Select Committee.
The report concludes that none of the witnesses substantiated repeated claims that Republican Members of Congress and presidential candidates have been making about former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton for the past three years relating to the attacks in Benghazi…
The Select Committee has been engaged in an aggressive press campaign focused almost entirely on Secretary Clinton, issuing 27 press releases related to Secretary Clinton since March, but only 5 on all other topics combined. Chairman Gowdy has referenced Secretary Clinton more than 50 times in nationally televised interviews since March.
But wait! It gets better! Now GOP members spilled the beans about stuff they said nobody should see.
From Yahoo News:
The Republican-led House Select Committee on Benghazi hastily deleted the name of a high-level Libyan defector from one of its public releases on Monday, Yahoo News’ Michael Isikoff reports. Republicans have argued that Moussa Koussa, a onetime intelligence chief for Libyan dictator Moammar Gadhafi and a source for the CIA on Libya, should not have been included in an email Hillary Clinton got on her private server from Sidney Blumenthal.
The CIA has told Congress that the email received on Clinton’s private server was not considered by the agency to be secret at all. Earlier this month, in a reference to Koussa, committee Chairman Trey Gowdy complained that Clinton had received an email on her private server in March 2011 with the name that represents “some of the most protected information in our intelligence community, the release of which could jeopardize not only national security but also human lives.”
UPDATE: Geez, these guys really are stupid.
From Talking Points Memo:
“I’d like to hear why you tried to silence the Benghazi whistleblower,” the ad’s narrator said. “But Mrs. Clinton, I can’t. What difference does it make?”
On This Day: 1803 – The Senate approved the Louisiana Purchase. 1947 – Hollywood came under scrutiny as the House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC) opened hearings into alleged Communist influence within the motion picture industry. Dozens of union members were among those blacklisted as a result of HUAC’s activities. 1955 – “Day-O” was recorded by Harry Belafonte. The name was changed to “The Banana Boat Song (Day-O).”
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