Yesterday, the Attorneys Generals from Massachusetts and the United States Virgin Islands announced that they were following California and New York in launching their own investigations into whether the oil giant mislead the public and shareholders over climate change.
Speaking at a press conference in New York, the Attorney General of Massachusetts, Maura Healey said: “Part of the problem has been one of public perception. Certain companies, certain industries, may not have told the whole story.”
Healey was joined at the press conference by Virgin Islands Attorney General, Claude Earl Walker, alongside New York State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, and former Vice President Al Gore, as well as other Attorney Generals from various states.
Speaking yesterday at the conference, Virgin Islands Attorney General, Clade Walker, said “If Exxon Mobil has tried to cloud their judgment, we are determined to hold the company accountable”.
Al Gore, who called the announcement a “turning point” in holding the fossil fuel companies accountable, added:
“We cannot continue to allow the fossil fuel industry or any industry to treat our atmosphere like an open sewer or mislead the public about the impact they have on the health of our people and the health of our planet”.
Gore drew similarities between the oil industry’s response to climate change and that of Big Tobacco which denied the health risks of its products for decades, something that I and many others have written about over the years.
“I do think the analogy may hold up rather precisely,” he said.
Exxon for its part responded as only Exxon knows how to do – to keep on spinning its web of denial and disinformation.
Suzanne McCarron, Exxon Vice President of Public and Government Affairs, called the allegations “politically motivated” adding that the idea Exxon had withheld information on climate change was “preposterous.”
In a blog post, she wrote: “The allegations are based on the false premise that ExxonMobil reached definitive conclusions about anthropogenic climate change before the world’s experts and before the science itself had matured, and then withheld it from the broader scientific community.”
In a defence that is laughable if it were not so ridiculous, McCarron added that “The allegations repeated today are an attempt to limit free speech and are the antithesis of scientific inquiry. Left unchallenged, they could stifle the search for solutions to the real risks from climate change.”
Words such as these coming from a company which has spent hundreds of millions and decades funding the climate denial movement, are literally beyond parody.
They also come too late for the Rockefeller Family Fund which last week announced it would be divesting from fossil fuels as quickly as possible and “eliminate holdings” of Exxon.
The family fund called Exxon’s actions on climate “morally reprehensible.“