Warren and Whitehouse: Exxon Climate Scandal a 'Master Class' in Corporate Rigging

Democratic Sens. Elizabeth Warren (Mass.) and Sheldon Whitehouse (R.I.) have a thing or two to say to about efforts by Exxon, and their Republican henchmen, to shut down state probes into whether the oil giant deliberately misled the public about the connection between fossil fuels and climate change.

“Let’s call this what it is: a master class in how big corporations rig the system,” the pair wrote in a searing op-ed published in the Washington Post late Tuesday.

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The senators lay out how the ongoing investigation by Massachusetts and New York attorneys general (AG) into potential crimes committed by ExxonMobil is “something state AGs do every day. Sometimes AGs uncover fraud and sometimes they don’t, but if the evidence warrants it, the question of fraud will be resolved in open court, with all the evidence on public display.”

“But instead of applauding the AGs for doing their jobs,” Warren and Whitehouse continue, “this particular investigation against this particular oil company has brought down the wrath of congressional Republicans—and a swift effort to shut down the investigation before any evidence becomes public.”

As Common Dreams has previously reported, the House Science, Space, and Technology Committee, led by chairman Lamar Smith (R-Tex.), issued subpoenas last month demanding information about the ExxonKnew investigations, accusing the probe of infringing on Exxon’s First Amendment rights. Massachusetts AG Maura Healey, New York AG Eric Schneiderman, and the eight targeted climate groups continue to defy that order.

“We say, good for them,” declared the senators.

Warren and Whitehouse then nail their “fossil-fuel-backed” Republican colleagues for “bully[ing] those who dare bring facts of possible corporate malfeasance to … attention.”

Citing the hundreds of thousands of dollars in campaign contributions received by both Smith and Senate Environment and Public Works Committee chairman Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.)—who called the state AGs’ investigation as a “misuse of power” and “politics at its worst”—they continue:

Reacting to the stinging take down, 350.org co-founder Bill McKibben, who was arrested last fall after staging a protest to draw attention to the climate change cover-up, wrote on Twitter Wednesday:

On Monday, Healey doubled down on her accusations against Exxon, filing a motion in a Texas federal court that charges the company with continuing “to make apparently misleading and deceptive statements to investors and consumers” about the viability of their operations, specifically the long-term burning of fossil fuels.

Inside Climate News, which was one of the two news outlets that initially exposed Exxon for hiding evidence and spreading misinformation about fossil fuels and climate change, reported Tuesday:

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