Will the Fossil Fuel Industry Face Racketeering, or Other Charges on Climate?

September 30, 2015

New installment of Inside Climate News’ earth-shaking-but-not-mainstream-cracking report on what Exxon knew, and when they knew it, on climate change.  The new revelations reheat the simmering issue of whether fossil fuel companies, like tobaco companies before them, deliberately conspired to cover up what they already knew about climate change, and thereby are liable for huge societal costs.

Further down, Dana Nuccitelli discusses in the Guardian.

Inside Climate News:

ExxonMobil may face renewed legal challenges from plaintiffs claiming that it should have acted to address the risks of climate change, based on new evidence that its own researchers warned management about the emerging threat decades ago.

In an online petition drive, in public statements and behind the scenes, environmental advocates and their political allies are pressing federal and state authorities to launch investigations, subpoenas or prosecutions to pin down what Exxon knew and when. The oil giant’s critics say Exxon might be held liable either for failing to disclose the risks to shareholders and financial regulators, or for manufacturing doubt to deceive people about the science of climate change.

“I think the case is already there to be made,” said Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse, a Democrat from Rhode Island. He has raised the possibility of a Justice Department investigation under federal racketeering law. A former prosecutor, he is one of the Senate’s leading voices for action to address the climate crisis.

Dana Nuccitelli in the Guardian:

Coinciding with the InsideClimate News revelations, a group of climate scientists sent a letter to President Obama, his science advisor John Holdren, and Attorney General Lynch, calling for an investigation “of corporations and other organizations that have knowingly deceived the American people about the risks of climate change, as a means to forestall America’s response to climate change.”

In 1999, the Justice Department filed a civil Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO) lawsuit against the major tobacco companies and their associated industry groups. In 2006, US District Court Judge Gladys Kessler ruled that the tobacco industry’s campaign to “maximize industry profits by preserving and expanding the market for cigarettes through a scheme to deceive the public” about the health hazards of smoking amounted to a racketeering enterprise.

Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) has noted that the fossil fuel industry’s efforts to cast doubt on climate science closely mirror those by the tobacco industry. As Senator Whitehouse said in May 2015,

Imagine what a little discovery into the beast would reveal about the schemes and mischief of the climate denial apparatus—about what they’re telling each other in private while they scheme to deceive the public. The truth will eventually come to light. It always does.

Indeed, as the InsideClimate News investigation subsequently revealed, Exxon’s own scientists were warning of the dangers of human-caused climate change nearly 40 years ago. The parallels to the tobacco industry’s public deception are striking. It appears that many climate scientists have become fed up, and are encouraging the government to embark on a similar RICO investigation into fossil fuel industry efforts to mislead the public.

Senator Whitehouse and 11 colleagues also sent a letter to 108 CEOs of all member companies of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors asking about their positions on the Chamber’s efforts to undermine the Obama Administration’s Clean Power Plan. The New York Times reported that the Chamber of Commerce was holding meetings with a group of about 30 corporate lawyers, coal lobbyists and Republican political strategists to devise a plan to dismantle the Clean Power Plan, months before it was even introduced.

Read the scientist’s RICO letter.

Letter to President Obama, Attorney General Lynch, and OSTP Director Holdren

September 1, 2015

Dear President Obama, Attorney General Lynch, and OSTP Director Holdren,

As you know, an overwhelming majority of climate scientists are convinced about the potentially serious adverse effects of human-induced climate change on human health, agriculture, and biodiversity. We applaud your efforts to regulate emissions and the other steps you are taking. Nonetheless, as climate scientists we are exceedingly concerned that America’s response to climate change – indeed, the world’s response to climate change – is insufficient. The risks posed by climate change, including increasing extreme weather events, rising sea levels, and increasing ocean acidity – and potential strategies for addressing them – are detailed in the Third National Climate Assessment (2014), Climate Change Impacts in the United States. The stability of the Earth’s climate over the past ten thousand years contributed to the growth of agriculture and therefore, a thriving human civilization. We are now at high risk of seriously destabilizing the Earth’s climate and irreparably harming people around the world, especially the world’s poorest people.

We appreciate that you are making aggressive and imaginative use of the limited tools available to you in the face of a recalcitrant Congress. One additional tool – recently proposed by Senator Sheldon Whitehouse – is a RICO (Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act) investigation of corporations and other organizations that have knowingly deceived the American people about the risks of climate change, as a means to forestall America’s response to climate change. The actions of these organizations have been extensively documented in peerreviewed academic research (Brulle, 2013) and in recent books including: Doubt is their Product (Michaels, 2008), Climate Cover-Up (Hoggan & Littlemore, 2009), Merchants of Doubt (Oreskes & Conway, 2010), The Climate War (Pooley, 2010), and in The Climate Deception Dossiers (Union of Concerned Scientists, 2015). We strongly endorse Senator Whitehouse’s call for a RICO investigation.

The methods of these organizations are quite similar to those used earlier by the tobacco industry. A RICO investigation (1999 to 2006) played an important role in stopping the tobacco industry from continuing to deceive the American people about the dangers of smoking. If corporations in the fossil fuel industry and their supporters are guilty of the misdeeds that have been documented in books and journal articles, it is imperative that these misdeeds be stopped as soon as possible so that America and the world can get on with the critically important business of finding effective ways to restabilize the Earth’s climate, before even more lasting damage is done.


Jagadish Shukla, George Mason University, Fairfax, VA
Edward Maibach, George Mason University, Fairfax, VA
Paul Dirmeyer, George Mason University, Fairfax, VA
Barry Klinger, George Mason University, Fairfax, VA
Paul Schopf, George Mason University, Fairfax, VA
(continued on page 2)
Letter to President Obama, Attorney General Lynch, and OSTP Director Holdren
David Straus, George Mason University, Fairfax, VA
Edward Sarachik, University of Washington, Seattle, WA
Michael Wallace, University of Washington, Seattle, WA
Alan Robock, Rutgers University, New Brunswick, NJ
Eugenia Kalnay, University of Maryland, College Park, MD
William Lau, University of Maryland, College Park, MD
Kevin Trenberth, National Center for Atmospheric Research, Boulder, CO
T.N. Krishnamurti, Florida State University, Tallahassee, FL
Vasu Misra, Florida State University, Tallahassee, FL
Ben Kirtman, University of Miami, Miami, FL
Robert Dickinson, University of Texas, Austin, TX
Michela Biasutti, Earth Institute, Columbia University, New York, NY
Mark Cane, Columbia University, New York, NY
Lisa Goddard, Earth Institute, Columbia University, New York, NY
Alan Betts, Atmospheric Research, Pittsford, VT

20 Responses to “Will the Fossil Fuel Industry Face Racketeering, or Other Charges on Climate?”

  1. Go get them! After all its the climate extremists who get the funding from BIG OIL.

    So please please please lets have them properly investigated so that we all know exactly where the money goes and which group have their snouts in the trough.

    (And might I remind you that there’s now serious doubts about the legitimacy of payments and various other activities by those whose daft idea it was to request a Rico investigation)

    • dumboldguy Says:

      SSSS makes one of his typically moronic and “daft” comments. He thinks that some kind of “climategate” bullshit will distract anyone from pursuing the real crimes committed by Exxon? Crimes that are as prosecutable under RICO as what the tobacco companies did? LOL.

      I know SSSS’s hoping that some “warmist” snouts will be found in some less than clean “trough” somewhere, and they very well may be, but that will at best only delay the prosecution of the climate change denialists.

      They HAVE been following the Merchants of Doubt tactics pioneered by the tobacco people. and HAVE managed to obfuscate and delay so far, but the walls appear to be tumbling down now.

      Russell Crook keeps talking about “exit strategies”—-Exxon is going to need a good one.

      • Funny,, Bastich, Taylor and dear Russel were being asked what their exit strategies were a year or so ago.

        • Don’t need one myself. And not one of you has the evidence that I do.

          • dumboldguy Says:

            Said Russell as he was led away in handcuffs, loudly professing his innocence

          • dumboldguy Says:

            Her’s one that Russell should be locked up for—-excerpted from something I said on the Rico Suave thread.

            “Went over to Russell’s horseshit site to check something out. Don’t worry, because I left long before my brain began to melt, but while there did come across an email exchange Russell had with someone who is far smarter and far more honest than Russell. For a message sent 8/13/15 at 10:06 PM, Russell used the following for the subject line.

            “PROVE, prove, prove, prove, prove, prove, prove, prove, prove, prove, prove, prove, prove, prove, prove, prove, prove, prove, prove, prove, prove, prove, prove, prove, prove, prove, prove, prove, prove, I’m dishonest and the AGW world will worship you”.

            “I only counted once, but that appears to be 29 “proves” in a row. And Russell gets upset when I say he sings a one-note song? LMAO”

            Or maybe Russell will use it as part of a successful insanity defense and walk? I’ve got it backwards, perhaps?

      • Nossir. The original core of folks who first got media traction for the ‘corrupt skeptic scientists’ talking point are going to need exit strategies, though I doubt if any will work for ’em, especially if one or another starts rolling on their counterparts to save their own skins. You guys will need your exit strategies to explain why y’all never did any due diligence about accusation overall.

        Meanwhile, y’all are having a worse day today? First, you have the finance problems of Shukla getting exponentially more entertaining: “Uh, oh. Jagdish Shukla and the #RICO20 has captured the attention of Congress…” http://wattsupwiththat.com/2015/10/01/uh-oh-jagdish-shukla-and-the-rico20-has-captured-the-attention-of-congress-and-foia-documents-are-coming-out/

        But if I may suggest it, as I have in other forms all along, the core premise of the letter and overall accusation reveals that ……… “Those scientists who want to use RICO to prosecute AGW ‘deniers’ have a big problem” http://www.americanthinker.com/articles/2015/10/those_scientists_who_want_to_use_rico_to_prosecute_agw_deniers_have_a_big_problem.html

        (and notice how I still live rent-free in “d.o.g.”‘s mind?)
        “Two Thumbs Up for this comment!” — Sinclair & Cook

        • greenman3610 Says:

          “Sinclair & Cook” – not sure what this is about. I never thumbs anything on this blog. I either leave it alone or I (rarely) trash it.
          Please clarify.

        • jsam Says:

          After the abject failures of Climategates 1, 2 and 3 you’re going for Climategate 4?


      • (appears my other comment from yesterday is hung up in Peter’s comment screening filter. No matter, I’ll just put in the screencapture of it.)

        • dumboldguy Says:

          Move along, folks. Nothing to see here. Same old deluded BS from the Heartland Whore. See my later comment.

          Boooooooooring! ZZZZZzzzzzz…….!!!!!!

  2. Gingerbaker Says:

    I would like to see what could be done to indict individuals on criminal charges over this. Some credible sources say that climate change is killing 400,000 people every year.

    We are talking about the deaths of millions. Surely these are crimes against humanity.

  3. Gingerbaker Says:

    Definition of Crimes against Humanity, from the International Criminal Court:

    “Crimes against humanity” include any of the following acts committed as part of a widespread or systematic attack directed against any civilian population, with knowledge of the attack:

    deportation or forcible transfer of population;
    rape, sexual slavery, enforced prostitution, forced pregnancy, enforced sterilization, or any other form of sexual violence of comparable gravity;
    persecution against an identifiable group on political, racial, national, ethnic, cultural, religious or gender grounds;
    enforced disappearance of persons;
    the crime of apartheid;
    other inhumane acts of a similar character intentionally causing great suffering or serious bodily or mental injury.

    And remember – Joseph Goebbels was indicted for these crimes. He never physically harmed anyone. He was in charge of a recklessly false propaganda campaign that resulted in the deaths of millions.

    • dumboldguy Says:

      Uh, slow down, GB. You and I and all Crockers know that what Exxon has done could be considered to be a “crime against humanity”, but we should pursue the RICO path first, since that has been successfully used against big tobacco.

      Those morons Russell Crook and Sheep Shagging Scottish Sceptic are blustering now, but they are really scared s***less over what’s coming. (Go over to the nearly dead “Rico Suave” thread to see what Russell is babbling about now. He is losing it big time).

      PS Goebbels (and Hitler) were never indicted for anything—since they committed suicide and were no longer present for the trials. It took a while to sort out the meanings of war crimes, genocide, and crimes against humanity anyway, and it’s still a work in progress. Maybe we should push for the inclusion of various climate change “crimes and misdemeanors” in the international agreements. Maybe it will come up in Paris in December? Maybe your friend Pope Francis will suggest it?—he has already pretty much said it’s a sin.

      • Notice the profanity, of which I don’t feel compelled to use. Meanwhile, have a look at the screencaptured comment I placed above. If I was petrified, would I really pen an article for a major online blog such as AmericanThinker (check its Alexa rating if you doubt the ranking) which draws attention straight to the heart of the ‘RICO-against-skeptics’ notion?

        As ever, time for y’all to apply some critical thinking to the matter, instead of placing all your bets in a set of beliefs y’all doen’t even have the heart to do some due diligence on.

        • dumboldguy Says:

          Oh look! Russell thinks s***less is “profanity”? LMAO—he should spend some time around USMC Drill Instructors.

          The reason he doesn’t feel compelled to use profanity is that he is busily trying to hide all his abominable lying horseshit (oops, profanity again—but IMO appropriate) behind a facade of “reason” and faux gentlemanly behavior. Very transparent, and one of the dishonest things that will land him in the hottest circle of hell. I again ask anyone who cares in the slightest about what Russell says to go over to the “Rico Suave” thread and check out his maunderings there. It has devolved into a conversation between only Russell and I, but it IS revealing.

          Yes, Russell, you WOULD really pen an article for a horseshit online blog such as American Thinker that only has a high Alexa rating because it appeals to the same people that make Rush Limbaugh the highest rated “commentator” on radio. I refer to it as American Stinker or American Stinky Thinker for a reason, and the fact that they allow YOU to publish there is all the evidence needed to support that.

          Russell’s article there is just more of the same BS he repeats endlessly everywhere. It is mildly entertaining, especially the American Stinker’s end note about Russell—it appears right after Russell cited the NIPCC as an example of “credible skeptic scientists”, a rather laughable oxymoron if ever there was one. American Stinker said in that end note that “…Russell Cook’s blog is a FORENSIC examination of faults in the corruption accusation against DENIER climate scientists”. Since the definition of forensic is “….of, relating to, or denoting the application of SCIENTIFIC methods and techniques to the investigation of crime”, and Russell admits he knows NO science, how can that be? Yes, Oxymorons DO abound in the world of Russell Crook and American Stinky Thinker.

          And you would write such an article because you ARE scared s***less, and it’s obvious to all that you are doubling down in a frantic attempt to avoid your fate I hate to invoke Godwin’s Law, but in this case it’s so f***ing appropriate that I can’t resist (oops again on the profanity—-I am such a PIG, and Russell is SO “reasonable”—how can ANYONE believe what I say?).

          To wit: Russell is like the concentration camp commandants who spent the final days of WW2 trying to bury all the corpses or march the living off to hide them from the approaching Allied troops. Just as they failed, Russell senses he is fighting a losing battle and is trying to bury the truth under the (same old) lies. You can’t find enough lies to bury the truth, Russell. They’re coming to get you, you and your Uncle Fred Singer that gives you buttons for your baseball cap and CC’s you on the emails that are going to be exhibit #1 in your Rico trials. I’ll be in the front row.

  4. Bolstering the claim for Racketeering is the well known fact that Big Carbon is using the same PR firms for their attack on climate science as the tobacco companies did – including some of the same “research scientists”

  5. ABSOLUTELY. The next thing that needs to be discussed…..is that news outlets (including FAKE news outlets like FOX News)…..need to be discouraged from LYING and MISLEADING.

    There needs to be a law that enforces criminal and civil penalties against any self proclaimed news organization that lies.

    And civil penalties need to be applied to FOX for lying for the last twenty years.

  6. dumboldguy Says:

    greenman3610 Says: on October 2, 2015 at 2:03 pm
    “Sinclair & Cook” – not sure what this is about. I never thumbs anything on this blog. I either leave it alone or I (rarely) trash it.
    Please clarify.

    RUSSELL COOK!!!! I’m sure I’m not the only Crocker who is eagerly awaiting “clarification” from you on this point. It would appear that Peter has been too busy to notice your egregious and repeated abuse of his hospitality as you appended “Two Thumbs Up for this comment—Sinclair & Cook” to your comments a half a dozen or more times in the recent past. It appears to be news to Peter that he has been approving and agreeing with all your lying BS.

    We are all ears.

  7. Mark Carney from the Bank of England gave a speech at Lloyd’s, the reinsurer, where he identified “liability risk” for causing aspects of climate change as an increasing worry for firms assessing financial stability of companies. See https://hypergeometric.wordpress.com/2015/10/03/risks-and-carney-at-lloyds-climate-change-is-a-tragedy-of-the-horizons/

    This is not only RICO, but, quite frankly, a hypothetical company whose semiconductor facility is trashed by a typhoon or a company whose supply chain is disrupted by extraordinary weather. Corporations may seek to obtain compensation from, say, fossil fuel companies for selling “faulty products”, causing them damage.

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