October 30, 2015

Environmental and Civil Rights Leaders Call on Department of Justice to Investigate ExxonMobil Over Climate Deception

Washington, DC — Leaders of many of the country’s largest environmental groups, civil rights organizations, and indigenous people’s movements issued a joint letter today calling on the Department of Justice to investigate ExxonMobil, after revelations that the company knew about climate change as early as the 1970s, but chose to mislead the public about the crisis in order to maximize their profits from fossil fuels.

“Despite Exxon’s wealth and power, people were eager to sign on to this statement,” said Bill McKibben, co-founder of 350.org. “Anyone who’s lived through 25 years of phony climate debate, or who’s seen the toll climate change is already taking on the most vulnerable communities, has been seething at these revelations. It reminds me of the spirit at the start of the Keystone battle.”

The letter is a remarkable show of unity, with groups ranging from the Audubon Society to the Foundation of Women in Hip Hop, and will help keep the spotlight on Exxon as new revelations continue to emerge. Over the last week, pressure has continued to build for a federal investigation, with both Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders calling on the DOJ to act.

Here is the full text of the letter and list of signatories:

Dear Attorney General Lynch,

As leaders of some of the nation’s environmental, indigenous peoples and civil rights groups, we’re writing to ask that you initiate a federal probe into the conduct of ExxonMobil. New revelations in the Los Angeles Times and the Pulitzer-prize-winning InsideClimate News strongly suggest that the corporation knew about the dangers of climate change even as it funded efforts at climate denial and systematically misled the public.

Given the damage that has already occurred from climate change—particularly in the poorest communities of our nation and our planet—and that will certainly occur going forward, these revelations should be viewed with the utmost apprehension. They are reminiscent—though potentially much greater in scale—than similar revelations about the tobacco industry.

These journalists have provided a remarkable roadmap to this corporation’s potential misconduct. We would ask that you follow that map wherever it may lead, employing all the tools at your disposal to uncover the truth.


Margie Alt, Executive Director of Environment America

Kenny Ausubel, Nina Simons, Founders of Bioneers

Sally Bingham, President and Founder of Interfaith Power and Light

May Boeve, Bill McKibben, Founders of 350.org

Michael Brune, Executive Director of Sierra Club

Robert Bullard, Author and John Muir Award winner, 2013

Andrea Carmen, Executive Director of International Indian Treaty Council

Faith Gemmill, Executive Director of REDOIL (Resisting Environmental Destruction on Indigenous Lands)

Tom Goldtooth, Executive Director of Indigenous Environmental Network

James Hansen, Director, Climate Science, Awareness and Solutions Program, Columbia University Earth Institute

Reverend Fletcher Harper, Executive Director of Greenfaith

David Helvarg, Executive Director of Blue Frontier

Gene Karpinski, President of League of Conservation Voters

Steve Kretzmann, Executive Director and Founder of Oil Change International

Fred Krupp, President of Environmental Defense Fund

Winona LaDuke, Executive Director of Honor the Earth

Annie Leonard, Executive Director of Greenpeace USA

RL Miller, President of Climate Hawks Vote

Matt Nelson, Managing Director of Presente.org

Erich Pica, President of Friends of the Earth

Cindy Shogan, Executive Director of Alaska Wilderness League

Reverend Fred Small, President of Creation Coalition

Gus Speth, Former Dean Yale School of Forestry and the Environment

Tom Steyer, Founder of NextGen

Rhea Suh, President of the Natural Resources Defense Council

Vien Truong, Director of Green for All

Joe Uehlein, Executive Director of Labor Network for Sustainability

Tripp Van Noppen, President of Earthjustice

David Yarnold, President of the Audubon Society

Reverend Lennox Yearwood, President of Hip Hop Caucus

Trip Van Nopen, Earth Justice

Rich Stolz, Executive Director of OneAmerica

Resilience Collaborative, LLC

A Philip Randolph Institute

Green America

Energy Action Coalition

Divest Invest Individual

Bean Soup Times

Ecumenical Poverty Initiative

Beats Rhymes & Relief

Freddie Gray Project

Beloved Community Center

Neighbors United of Southeast Greensboro, NC

The Foundation of Women in Hip Hop

The Gathering for Justice/Justice League NYC

J Dilla Foundation