Late Wednesday night, I received a letter signed by 13 members of Congress claiming that we may be violating Exxon’s right to free speech. They’re asking that we divulge every communication with state officials and many private organizations related to our constitutional right to ask elected officials to investigate what Exxon knew about climate change and when.
We weren’t expecting them to come after us quite like this, but I’m not surprised they’re fighting back. The climate movement has been hitting fossil fuel companies like Exxon hard — from stopping pipelines to blockading oil trains to explicitly calling out their lies. Unleashing their allies in Congress is a counter-attack of the most desperate kind.
Here’s how this all got started: Six months ago we learned from Pulitzer-prize winning reporters that Exxon knew everything there was to know about climate change in the 1970s.1,2 Instead of warning the rest of us or changing their business model, they climate-proofed their new drilling rigs for sea level rise and bankrolled almost a half century of climate denial.
Of course we have formed stronger alliances by collaborating with other groups ever since Exxon’s deceit was brought to light. Our voices are stronger and more effective when we join in the fight. Together, we’ve been doing everything we can to bring Exxon to justice, and the results are massive: Already 500,000 people have asked the nation’s legal authorities to investigate the #ExxonKnew scandal, four Attorneys General have said yes, and the Department of Justice has referred the case to the FBI’s criminal division.
Our goal is clear: to hold Exxon accountable for what may be one of the greatest corporate crimes in history. We’re not backing down, no matter how much they try to intimidate us.
It’s priceless that Exxon and its allies in Congress are claiming that their First Amendment rights are somehow being violated by people taking action. This company has been holding “closed-door meetings” with politicians for decades, and the result is a planet in crisis. They clearly want to block our right to petition the government, chill our free speech and freedom of association, and use governmental power to find and deter anyone that shares our values and wants to join us to call for climate justice. They fight back with money, but we fight back with people power. They cannot silence us or drive us apart.
Arctic ice is melting at a terrifying pace this year; many of the world’s coral reefs are wasting away. These are the things Exxon — and now the House Committee on Space, Science, and Technology — are doing their best to distract us from. They won’t succeed.
What we’ve been able to accomplish together is tremendous, but we’d be kidding ourselves if we said that it hasn’t taken a lot out of us.
We can’t compete with the fossil fuel industry’s money or the Congressional influence that it buys, but if you can pitch in to help us keep up the fight — it would mean a great deal to our team and everyone working to hold Exxon accountable. We’ll put it to good use — for instance, by rallying outside Exxon’s annual shareholder meeting this Wednesday, asking shareholders to divest from Exxon.
Thank you, as always, for all your support. Especially at times like this, it means so much to us. If you’re able, please make a donation today to help us turn up the heat at this critical time.
P.S. Find out more about the growing #ExxonKnew campaign and join in the fight at exxonknew.org
- How Exxon went from leader to skeptic on climate change research (Los Angeles Times)
- Exxon’s Own Research Confirmed Fossil Fuels’ Role in Global Warming Decades Ago (InsideClimate News)
- 350.org on Exxon’s bought-and-paid-for Congressional allies targeting environmentalists: “We won’t be distracted” (350.org press release)
- Letter from 13 Members of Congress to 350.org
The list of groups that received the letter includes: 350.org, the Climate Accountability Institute, the Climate Reality Project, Greenpeace USA, Pawa Law Group PC, the Rockefeller Brothers Fund, Rockefeller Family Fund and the Union of Concerned Scientists. The 17 attorneys general are the elected officials of California, Connecticut, District of Columbia, Iowa, Illinois, Massachusetts, Maryland, Maine, Minnesota, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, Rhode Island, U.S. Virgin Islands, Virginia, Vermont, and Washington State.