Houston Chronicle Business Columnist Calls for Exxon Climate Denial Investigation, Slams Paxton, Cites DeSmog Research

Houston Chronicle Business Columnist Calls for Exxon Climate Denial Investigation, Slams Paxton, Cites DeSmog Research
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In case you missed this excellent article over the weekend, “Exxon Mobil documents call for a thorough investigation,” Houston Chronicle business columnist Chris Tomlinson cites DeSmog’s research in a hard-hitting call for state attorneys general to continue investigating Exxon’s potentially fraudulent efforts to mislead the public and investors about climate change risks.

The Chronicle’s business columnist also takes Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton to task for his industry-friendly efforts to pour cold water on the important investigations underway by 17 state Attorneys General looking at Exxon’s history of climate denial. Tomlinson minces no words in slamming Paxton as “a man bold enough to remain in office while facing state and federal fraud charges. The former corporate lawyer has proved he’s a political pawn who could care not less about law enforcement, because there is certainly enough evidence to warrant an investigation into Exxon Mobil.”

Tomlinson cites internal corporate documents recently uncovered by DeSmog’s investigative journalism team in which corporate officials claimed in the late 1970s that “there is no doubt that increases in fossil fuel usage and decreases of forest cover are aggravating the potential problem of increased CO2 in the atmosphere.”

He also cites the incredible work done by journalists at Inside Climate News and the Los Angeles Times in collaboration with the Columbia School of Journalism, who independently uncovered vast amounts of new information about what Exxon knew, and when, about the extent of climate change risks posed by the burning of fossil fuels.

Although Exxon has gone to great lengths to smear the journalists at DeSmog, ICN and LAT, Tomlinson notes that the company has no substantive challenge to the facts plainly revealed in Exxon’s own internal documents. 

But Exxon Mobil’s internal documents, obtained by investigative journalists, raise serious questions, and Exxon Mobil has not disputed their validity.”

Tomlinson correctly notes the huge difference between free speech protected by the U.S. Constitution and the type of deliberate deception and denial peddled for decades by dozens of front groups funded by ExxonMobil to the tune of at least $31 million.

While individuals in the United States enjoy free speech, there are limits on how much corporate executives can spin the facts.

Companies cannot intentionally misrepresent their product or its potential for harm, and investigators want to know if Exxon Mobil deliberately lied about the impact of CO2 on the climate to keep selling gasoline and other fuels. Publicly traded corporations must also disclose any risks to the company’s future profits in annual reports to the SEC. Exxon Mobil only began mentioning climate change as a regulatory risk in 2010.

…we know from the tobacco cases that major corporations are capable of committing large-scale fraud on shareholders while inflicting harm on the public. Prosecutors have a duty to investigate and determine if charges are warranted against Exxon Mobil.”

Our hats are off to Mr. Tomlinson here at DeSmog. 

Read the documents Tomlinson references in his column by clicking on the image below: 

Houston Chronicle Business Columnist Calls for Exxon Climate Denial Investigation, Slams Paxton, Cites DeSmog Research
Brendan is Executive Director of DeSmog. He is also a freelance writer and researcher specializing in media, politics, climate change and energy. His work has appeared in Vanity Fair, The Huffington Post, Grist, The Washington Times and other outlets.

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