ExxonMobil may be facing a federal criminal investigation.
Two American congressmen are urging the FBI to investigate the energy giant over allegations of funding climate denial and abuse of the public trust.
The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) referred a request from Congressmen Ted Lieu and Mark DeSaulnier to the FBI's criminal division. The congressmen want to know if the company violated the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act and related laws.
If launched, the FBI’s investigation would look at whether ExxonMobil failed to disclose truthful information to investors and the public regarding climate science.
The request stems from a series of stories Inside Climate News published in 2015. Those stories disclosed that Exxon scientists knew as far back as 1977 the disastrous effects globally of an increase in atmospheric carbon dioxide from fossil fuels.
“Then, toward the end of the 1980s, Exxon curtailed its carbon dioxide research,” the publication reported. “In the decades that followed, Exxon worked instead at the forefront of climate denial.
“It put its muscle behind efforts to manufacture doubt about the reality of global warming its own scientists had once confirmed. It lobbied to block federal and international action to control greenhouse gas emissions. It helped to erect a vast edifice of misinformation that stands to this day.”
In a letter dated mid-January, but which was made public late Wednesday by Inside Climate News, the Assistant Attorney General of the DOJ’s Office of Legislative Affairs wrote that the FBI will determine whether an investigation is warranted.
“This development is a step in the right direction to holding it legally accountable,” said Naomi Ages, Greenpeace US climate liability campaigner.
“We expect the FBI and the Department of Justice to give this investigation the attention demanded by the American public.”