Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) wants ExxonMobil investigated by the Department of Justice.
In a letter to Attorney General Loretta Lynch on Tuesday, Sanders charged the oil giant of engaging in a cover-up to intentionally mislead the public about the reality of human-caused climate change, and by extension the risks of its carbon-intensive product.
“It appears that Exxon knew its product was causing harm to the public, and spent millions of dollars to obfuscate the facts in the public discourse,” Sanders wrote. “The information that has come to light about Exxon’s past activities raises potentially serious concerns that should be investigated.”
The information Sanders cited was a recent investigation by Inside Climate News, which found that the ExxonMobil conducted research as far back as 1977 affirming that climate change is caused by carbon emissions from fossil fuels. At the same time, the oil giant gave millions of dollars to politicians and organizations that promote climate science denial, and spent millions more lobbying to prevent regulations to limit carbon emissions.
Sanders, like many, compared the allegations against ExxonMobil to the DOJ’s massive and successful lawsuit against the tobacco industry. That action found that a number of big tobacco companies engaged in racketeering by conspiring to hide the harmful impacts of smoking from the public.
In an interview with ThinkProgress on Monday, the attorney who prosecuted that case against the tobacco industry said an investigation into ExxonMobil by the DOJ is “plausible and should be considered.”