Sen. Bernie SandersBernie SandersThe Hill’s Whip List: Where Dems stand on Trump’s Supreme Court nominee Friends, foes spar in fight on Trump’s Supreme Court nominee Sanders: 'What do the Russians have on Mr. Trump?' MORE (I-Vt.) is asking the Justice Department to investigate whether ExxonMobil Corp.’s climate change research strategy broke federal law.
The Democratic presidential candidate cited a recent investigation by InsideClimate News that found that Exxon, prior to its merger with Mobil, concluded from its research in the 1970s that climate change is a real threat but later spent millions of dollars sowing doubt about global warming.
“These reports, if true, raise serious allegations of a misinformation campaign that may have caused public harm similar to the tobacco industry’s actions — conduct that led to federal racketeering convictions,” Sanders wrote in the Tuesday letter.
“Based on available public information, it appears that Exxon knew its product was causing harm to the public, and has spent millions of dollars to obfuscate the facts in the public discourse,” he said. “The information that has come to light about Exxon’s past activities raises potentially serious concerns that should be investigated.”
Former Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley (D), another Democratic presidential candidate, called for a Justice probe of Exxon on Friday, based on the InsideClimate series and a similar Los Angeles Times investigation.
“We held tobacco companies responsible for lying about cancer. Let’s do the same for oil companies & climate change,” he tweeted, with a link to a story about two House Democrats asking for the investigation.
Exxon has denied the charges in the media reports and pointed to the money it has spent on climate change research.
“Our scientists and researchers were among the first to grapple with the fact there might be a connection between the carbon dioxide emissions from humanity’s use of fossil fuels and climate fluctuations,” Ken Cohen, Exxon’s top lobbyist, wrote in a recent blog post.
“It should surprise no one that we have remained committed to pursuing climate change research since that initial discovery.”