Sanders, Markey, Merkley, and Warren Send Letter to Attorney General Urging DOJ to Bring Lawsuits Against the Fossil Fuel Industry
WASHINGTON – Amid record breaking heat levels, Sens. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), Ed Markey (D-Mass.), Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), and Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) on Monday sent a letter to United States Attorney General Merrick Garland urging him to bring lawsuits against the fossil fuel industry for its longstanding and carefully coordinated campaign to mislead consumers and discredit climate science in pursuit of massive profits.
“The actions of ExxonMobil, Shell, and potentially other fossil fuel companies represent a clear violation of federal racketeering laws, truth in advertising laws, consumer protection laws, and potentially other laws, and the Department must act swiftly to hold them accountable for their unlawful actions,” the senators wrote. “The fossil fuel industry has had scientific evidence about the dangers of climate change and the role that burning fossil fuels play in increasing global temperatures for more than 50 years.”
In 1959, Edward Teller warned the American Petroleum Institute that carbon emissions from the burning of fossil fuels would raise global temperatures. In 1975, Shell-backed research concluded that increasing atmospheric carbon concentrations could cause global temperature increases that would drive “major climatic changes” and compared the dangers of burning fossil fuels to nuclear waste. Beginning in the late 1970s, Exxon – now ExxonMobil – conducted extensive research on climate change that predicted current rising temperatures “correctly and skillfully.”
As stated in a lawsuit filed by the State of Minnesota, the fossil fuel industry “spent millions on advertising and public relations because they understood that an accurate understanding of climate change would affect their ability to continue to earn profits by conducting business as usual.”
The fossil fuel industry’s illegal, coordinated campaign of misinformation has proven tremendously profitable. From 1990 to 2019, the six largest private fossil fuel companies made $2.4 trillion in profits. In 2022, Exxon alone made $56 billion in profits – a record high for a western oil company. Shell reported record earnings of $39.9 billion. Chevron made a record $36.5 billion and BP made a record $27.7 billion.
This summer, over 100 million Americas have been under heat alerts. States such as Texas, Florida, and Arizona have seen record heat temperatures shattered. June was the hottest ever in NOAA’s climate record , and the year 2023 is expected to be the warmest year on record.
Read the letter, here.
Banner Image: Fossil Fuel Pollution. Image Credit – Chris LeBoutillier