Two California Congressmen believe ExxonMobil violated the law for "failing to disclose truthful information regarding climate change" and asked Attorney General Loretta Lynch to investigate and consider legal retaliation against the company.
In a letter to the Attorney General, Rep. Ted Lieu (D-Los Angeles) and Rep. Mark DeSaulnier (D-Walnut Creek) said Exxon violated numerous laws for "spreading this disinformation campaign", including the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act, known as RICO, consumer protection laws, truth in advertising, public health and shareholder protection, among other laws.
RICO is the same law that was used to fine the tobacco industry for failing to let consumers know the dangers of smoking.
Lieu and DeSaulnier wrote the letter after reading a report in the Los Angeles Times that Exxon's executives funded climate change research, starting in the 70s, only to sweep it under the rug and deliberately deny its findings.
"The apparent tactics employed by Exxon are reminiscent of the actions employed by big tobacco companies to deceive the American people about the known risks of tobacco," they wrote.
The Congressmen claim Exxon disregarded their own scientists in 1988 and "started doing the opposite and engaged in a campaign of denial and disinformation" about climate change. "[I]nstead of following their own scientists and the actual science,"Exxon funded an alliance of the worlds' largest companies to halt government efforts to "curb fossil fuel emissions," they wrote.
Lieu and DeSaulneir offered proof of Exxon's knowledge about the dangers of climate change by alleging that Exxon incorporated climate change projections in the company's planning. In the letter, they reference the Los Angeles Times article that states a "top Exxon researcher," Ken Croasdale, "explored how much easier and cheaper oil drilling in the Arctic would be with a melting ice cap."
Stating Exxon is morally wrong, both Congressmen state that Exxon deceived the American public."Exxon funded and publicly engaged in a campaign to deceive the American people about the known risks of fossil fuels in causing climate change. If these allegations against Exxon are true, then Exxon’s actions were immoral," they wrote.