Congressional hearing witness, Professor Ronald Rotunda Source: http://bit.ly/2d3HH9i
Last week we expressed concerns we share with the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS) and others that, as Chair of the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Science, Space and Technology (SST), Rep. Lamar Smith (R-TX) is on a misguided, overzealous mission to discredit a set of well-established non-governmental organizations (NGOs), and state attorneys general (AGs) who are investigating the Exxon Mobil Corporation for alleged fraud. Our initial concerns remain after observing last week’s full committee hearing to address possible charges of contempt of Congress that may be filed against eight NGOs and two state AGs for refusing to comply with subpoenas Smith unilaterally issued in July. If Chairman Smith decides to seek and is eventually granted the ability to file “inherent contempt” charges (which, technically, can lead to jail time), what kind of precedent would that set, and what would be the lasting consequences for those who are working in the best interests of the public by holding corporations accountable?
Posted in Assessments of Climate Impacts and Adaptation, Attacks on Climate Science and Scientists, Climate Change Education and Communication, Climate Change Preparedness, Climate Science Censorship, Climate Science Watch, Congress: Legislation and Oversight, Global Climate Disruption and Impacts, Global Warming Denial Machine, Obama Administration, Science Communication, Science-Policy Interaction, Scientific Integrity
Source: Editorial Cartoon by John Branch, North America Syndicate, published in the San Antonio Express (Rep. Smith’s congressional district’s local newspaper) on May 26, 2013. http://editorialcartoonists.com/cartoon/display.cfm/122771/
News cameras and long lines of people waiting to enter a packed hearing room are not the stuff of normal business carried out by the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Science, Space, and Technology (House SST), which has a relatively sleepy (but nevertheless important) list of topics under its jurisdiction. Its primary function – reauthorizing (not appropriating) funding and providing general oversight for a host of scientific research and technology development programs across a dozen or so federal agencies – generally attracts the interest of journalists writing for highly specialized newsletters, not major broadcasters. But tomorrow’s 10:00 a.m. hearing in 2318 Rayburn House Office Building promises to further elevate the Committee’s profile, and that of its Chairman, Rep. Lamar Smith (R-TX). Smith has managed to receive more ink in the press than just about any of his predecessors in this role, primarily over his controversial attitudes toward science and technology in general, and climate change in particular. Tomorrow, he is hoping to lay the groundwork for filing a slew of “contempt of Congress” charges that are bogus at best and dangerous at worst.
Posted in Assessments of Climate Impacts and Adaptation, Attacks on Climate Science and Scientists, Climate Change Education and Communication, Climate Change Preparedness, Climate Litigation, Climate Science Censorship, Climate Science Watch, Congress: Legislation and Oversight, Global Climate Disruption and Impacts, Global Warming Denial Machine, Science Communication, Science-Policy Interaction, Scientific Integrity
The Golden Pass LNG Terminal at Sabine Pass, Texas is highly vulnerable to sea level rise and storm surges; it is a joint venture among ExxonMobil, ConocoPhillips, and Qatar Petroleum. Source: http://bit.ly/2cFOkyj
– Part Three (A)
Earlier this year, CSPW posted the first two parts of this series. This third part of three installments addresses whether or how the Exxon Mobil Corporation has disclosed risks associated with climate change to its shareholders and the public through its 10-K filings to the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) from 2009 through 2015. (Part One covers the period of time from 1993 – 2000, coinciding with the Clinton-Gore administration; Part Two covers 2000 – 2008, coinciding with the Bush-Cheney administration). Part Three (A) covers the latter part of 2008 and 2009; Part Three (B), to be posted shortly, covers 2010 – 2015.) 10-K reports filed before 1993 would also be useful to analyze – especially in light of recent revelations that this company engaged in a robust carbon dioxide research program in the 1970s and corporate scientists warned their bosses of the climate change threat decades ago – but are unavailable online; we are in the process of locating archived copies.
This tedious but insightful exercise is part of a CSPW investigation that parallels important ongoing criminal investigations being conducted by several state attorneys general; and a growing body of reports by universities, investigative journalists, not-for-profit organizations, and others addressing Exxon’s internal understanding of the threats to its own operations and profitability relating to a host of global warming impacts now worsening, relative to how it has communicated these threats to its investors and the public over time. If it can be proved that the corporate leadership at Exxon, which merged with the Mobil Corporation in 1998 to become ExxonMobil, committed fraud by deliberately deceiving shareholders and failing to properly disclose risk factors that would materially compromise stock value, then corporate leadership should be held accountable and justice sought. It’s that simple.
A Flood of Floods
Baton Rouge, Louisiana, has been inundated for over a week. Flooding brought on by torrential rains has left at least thirteen people dead and caused damage to tens of thousands of homes and businesses – including the Exxon Mobil Corporation, one of many petrochemical companies with facilities in the area. The likelihood of this type of extreme weather event has long been predicted by climate scientists.
A study published this March by Nature Climate Change predicted increased flooding based on a climate-driven increase in extreme daily precipitation – in other words, changes not necessarily in the overall rainfall received in an area, but in the amount of rain that falls in any one rain event. The deluge dropped on Baton Rouge and surrounding areas last week is just one example.
Posted in Assessments of Climate Impacts and Adaptation, Climate Change Education and Communication, Climate Change Mitigation, Climate Change Preparedness, Climate Science Censorship, Climate Science Watch, Congress: Legislation and Oversight, Energy, General, Global Climate Disruption and Impacts, Global Warming Denial Machine, Obama Climate Plan, Science-Policy Interaction, Scientific Integrity
Source: Wikimedia Commons
During the eight years of President Bush’s presidency, disputing, delaying, or diminishing the National Climate Assessment’s findings occurred as part of a larger struggle against accepting emerging consensus about anthropogenic climate change.
President Bill Clinton and Vice President Al Gore released the National Climate Assessment, the first comprehensive report on climate change impacts across every region and many sectors of the United States, as a crowning achievement of its administration’s environmental commitment. Envisioned to provide essential information to policymakers addressing and solving the emerging climate change threat, the document, published in 2000 shortly after the election, was meant to catalyze action. Instead, President Bush and Vice President Cheney effectively disposed of the report, and all its valuable warnings virtually disappeared into thin air.
Posted in Assessments of Climate Impacts and Adaptation, Attacks on Climate Science and Scientists, Climate Change Education and Communication, Climate Change Preparedness, Climate Science Censorship, Climate Science Watch, Climate Science Watch Update, Global Climate Disruption and Impacts, Global Warming Denial Machine, National Security, Science Communication, Science-Policy Interaction, Scientific Integrity, U.S. Global Change Research Program, Whistleblowers
There was big news from Great Britain last month, and it wasn’t all about leaving the European Union: on June 1, Scotland voted to permanently ban fracking within its borders, reaffirming an earlier moratorium.
Not long before, a council vote in North Yorkshire, England, allowed for renewed shale oil exploration and fracking for the first time in Great Britain since 2011.
With fracking, as with its relationship with the Continent, the “United” Kingdom is anything but.
The Exxon Mobil Corporation is being investigated by multiple state attorneys general (AGs) concerned that the company intentionally misled its shareholders regarding scientifically-established risks associated with climate change impacts – risks that not only endanger human health and the environment, but also threaten to devalue XOM shares. In the 1980s, when Exxon first began colluding with other fossil fuel interests to engage in an orchestrated, sustained deception and disinformation campaign designed to stymie regulatory controls on carbon dioxide emissions, the level of scientific uncertainty regarding the exact nature and severity of climate change impacts was greater than it is today. The modus operandi of the “global warming denial machine” has been to play up those inherent uncertainties while downplaying climate change impacts in order to dissuade policymakers and the public of the need to curtail our dependence on fossil fuels. After all: oil is money, and the corporate bottom line must be protected.
Currently, not only is the scientific underpinning of global climate disruption markedly more solid, the risks associated with ever-increasing atmospheric concentrations of greenhouse gases now surpassing the 400 ppm mark have moved from the theoretical to the very real, and are being felt everywhere – including where ExxonMobil employees live, work, and conduct business. In this piece, we look at two rolling disasters: repeated, extreme flooding this year in Texas, where ExxonMobil is headquartered, and massive wildfires in California where the oil and gas giant also has major operations. Both are examples of climate change impacts long predicted by computer models and robust scientific research conducted globally; both exemplify the costly price tag that comes with failing to curtail carbon dioxide emissions. Tragically, this price tag includes loss of human life in addition to extensive property destruction, devastation of ecosystems and critical habitats, and more. All CEO Rex Tillerson needs to do to comprehend the dangers posed by our collective failure to cut carbon emissions and bring stability back to Earth’s climate system – a failure ExxonMobil has conspired to ensure – is to look outside his proverbial corporate window.
Posted in Assessments of Climate Impacts and Adaptation, Climate Change Education and Communication, Climate Change Mitigation, Climate Change Preparedness, General, Global Climate Disruption and Impacts, Global Warming Denial Machine, National Security, Science Communication, Science-Policy Interaction, Uncategorized
The Exxon Mobil Corporation held its annual shareholders meeting on May 25, 2016. The company’s documentation of the meeting can be found here.
The final proposal offered at the meeting, the eleventh of eleven shareholder resolutions, relates to the company’s involvement in hydraulic fracturing (fracking). The authors of the proposal did not demand the immediate cessation of all hydraulic fracturing activities by the oil and gas giant, but rather requested that the corporation provide better disclosures regarding its fracking activities. The resolution – submitted each year over the past five years – stems from growing frustration that ExxonMobil has a problem with transparency, and that fracking is one key area where the company could choose to become more forthcoming.
(Part Two of Three)
Disparaging legitimate scientific data and conclusions regarding global climate change and the role of fossil fuel combustion by dubbing it “junk science” has been a favorite tactic employed by the oil industry. This cartoon, penned in 2005, aptly captures the dynamic at play throughout President George W. Bush’s first term in office. [Image source: NewEnergyNews @ http://bit.ly/21FpG1Q]
To commemorate ExxonMobil’s 2016 Annual Meeting of Shareholders set to be held today, we are releasing Part Two of our ongoing series reporting on the company’s treatment of the climate change issue in its 10-K filings to the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) from 2001 through 2008, coinciding with the Bush-Cheney administration (read Part One).
Calls for a U.S. Justice Department (DOJ) investigation — by presidential candidates, Members of Congress, and former DOJ attorney Sharon Eubanks — similar to the one conducted against Big Tobacco for lying about the connection of cigarette smoking and lung cancer, to determine whether Exxon Mobil Corp. should face federal charges under the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) Act for knowingly misrepresenting scientific knowledge regarding global climate change and its impacts, have received significant play in the media over the last several months. Unsurprisingly, these appeals have been met with push-back by the oil company — and more recently in a Las Vegas Review-Journal editorial and a Wall Street Journal editorial, both summarily slammed for multiple gross distortions by the journalistic watchdog group Media Matters. The more imminent and potentially more problematic legal threat for ExxonMobil (also referred to simply as Exxon) than a future DOJ probe is the ongoing criminal investigation of the oil giant by the state of New York.
Posted in Activism, Assessments of Climate Impacts and Adaptation, Attacks on Climate Science and Scientists, Climate Change Education and Communication, Climate Change Mitigation, Climate Change Preparedness, Climate Litigation, Climate Science Censorship, Climate Science Watch, Climate Science Watch Update, Congress: Legislation and Oversight, Energy, General, Global Climate Disruption and Impacts, Global Warming Denial Machine, International Climate Policy, National Security, Obama Administration, Obama Climate Plan, Science Communication, Science-Policy Interaction, Scientific Integrity, U.S. Global Change Research Program, Whistleblowers