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Tell California Attorney General Xavier Becerra: Investigate Exxon

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Join the investigation into Exxon’s possible climate fraud.

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    Tell California Attorney General Xavier Becerra: Investigate Exxon

    Exxon Mobil’s own scientists told executives about the company’s role in causing climate change as far back as the 1970s. Instead of acting on that information, Exxon funded a decades-long disinformation campaign that helped create today’s dangerous climate denial.1 All the while, Exxon kept drilling and selling the product it knew was driving the world closer to disaster.

    Several states are investigating what Exxon knew and what it told its shareholders and the public, and they have started to raise serious questions. Just this week, investigators reported that when Secretary of State Rex Tillerson was Exxon’s CEO, he used an alias email address in climate change discussions, calling himself “Wayne Tracker.”2

    There’s more to this story, but the investigating states need support to uncover Exxon’s past behavior. California has the badly needed resources to aid in the investigations, but so far Attorney General Xavier Becerra hasn’t publicly committed to join. With enough support from Californians, we can pressure Attorney General Becerra to join the investigation.

    Tell Attorney General Becerra: Join the investigation into Exxon’s possible climate fraud.

    New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman and Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey are leading the effort to uncover what Exxon knew, but the oil giant is fighting back hard. Exxon filed lawsuits against both attorneys general, and House science committee chair Lamar Smith, a well-known climate change denier and fossil fuel industry ally, issued subpoenas against both as well.3

    California is well-positioned to join the fight. When Gov. Jerry Brown announced Becerra as his pick for attorney general, he specifically called out the importance of climate, saying “I'm confident he will be a champion for all Californians and help our state aggressively combat climate change.”4 In fact, the Los Angeles Times reported that former California Attorney General Kamala Harris was already investigating before she left office,5 but there’s been no recent news from the attorney general’s office.

    Last month,18 of California’s delegates to the U.S. House of Representatives wrote to Attorney General Becerra to ask him to continue the investigation into Exxon.6 By adding our voices, we can amplify their call and let Attorney General Becerra know that Californians care about climate accountability.

    Tell Attorney General Becerra: Join the investigation into Exxon’s possible climate fraud.

    Exxon's leadership spent decades and millions of dollars funding a systematic disinformation campaign about the risks of their product, which had been confirmed by the company’s own scientists. The link between fossil fuels and climate change posed a risk to Exxon's fossil fuel business and assets – a risk that legally must be disclosed to investors – but for decades, the company failed to do that, too.7

    Challenging this type of reckless corporate profit-taking means holding the companies that do it accountable. That’s why CREDO members have already submitted more than 160,000 petitions to the Department of Justice and Securities and Exchange Commission demanding investigations into Exxon.

    But leadership from the states is essential. In the 1990s, 46 states came together to hold the tobacco companies accountable to the tune of $200 billion for their misinformation campaign about the risks of tobacco.8 Fossil fuel companies used many of the same tactics – and literally many of the same people9 – and they too must be held to account.

    Tell Attorney General Becerra: Join the investigation into Exxon’s possible climate fraud.

    References:

    1. Neela Banerjee, Lisa Song and David Hasemyer, “Exxon: The road not taken,” InsideClimate News, Sept. 16, 2015.
    2. Erik Larson, “Tillerson Used ‘Alias’ Email for Climate Messages, Schneiderman Says,” Bloomberg, March 13, 2017.
    3. Stephanie Ebbert, “ExxonMobil fires back at AG Maura Healey with own suit,” Boston Globe, Dec. 5, 2016.
    4. Sarah D. Wire and John Myers, “Los Angeles Rep. Xavier Becerra poised to become California's first Latino attorney general,” Los Angeles Times, Dec. 1, 2016.
    5. Ivan Penn, “California to investigate whether Exxon Mobil lied about climate-change risks,” Los Angeles Times, Jan. 20, 2016.
    6. David Hasemyer, “California Lawmakers Press for Renewed Exxon Climate Investigation,” InsideClimate News, Feb. 7, 2017.
    7. Mike Tokars, "Did ExxonMobil commit securities fraud by denying climate change?" Christian Science Monitor, Nov. 9, 2015.
    8. James Osborne, “Are Big Oil lawsuits echoing the ones against Big Tobacco?," SF Gate, June 11, 2016.
    9. Benjamin Hulac, “Tobacco and Oil Industries Used Same Researchers to Sway Public," Scientific American, July 20, 2016.