Advocates Call for Investigation Into Exxon for Misleading the Public on Climate Change

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: May 26, 2016

CONTACT: Austin Davis, austin@350vt.org, 802-370-0408

 

Montpelier, VT – A group of environmentalists and businesses delivered more than 1600 petition signatures to Attorney General Bill Sorrell today encouraging him to build on his work as part of a recently formed coalition of Attorneys General focused on climate issues by joining the nationwide effort to investigate Exxon.

Representatives from 350Vermont and Vermont Businesses for Social Responsibility, together with Vermont activists gathered to highlight the importance of holding Exxon accountable. The petition delivery comes one day after the annual Exxon shareholder meeting in Dallas, TX where more than 100 protesters gathered to demand an investigation into the energy company.   

The call for Vermont’s Attorney General to open a probe into what Exxon knew about climate change was prompted by the findings of two independent investigations conducted by Inside Climate News and the Los Angeles Times. Those investigations revealed that ExxonMobil’s own climate science team reached the conclusion in the 1970s that burning of fossil fuels would not only have a “catastrophic” impact on our planet but also pose a financial risk to Exxon’s financial stability in the future. And then Exxon covered up the truth for more than four decades.

“After confirming the link between their products and climate change, ExxonMobil spent the next several decades funding organizations and individuals that denied this link.” said Daniel Barlow, VBSR Public Policy Manager.  “They appear to have misled the public, shareholders, and the U.S. Congress. Exxon-Mobil has failed every ethical and moral standard that VBSR members hold themselves to and the company needs to be investigated to determine the extent of the cover-up.”

Vermont is already experiencing the effects of climate change as the state sees more extreme weather.

“As extreme weather patterns become the norm, Vermont's cities and towns will face daunting infrastructure costs,” said Burlington City Councilor Selene Colburne. “The state has shown real courage in standing up to corporations, whether in the fight for GMO labeling or the push to close Vermont Yankee. Holding Exxon accountable for their actions will send a strong message that they can't have it all at the expense of our planet and its occupants. It's time for Vermont and our Attorney General to step up as leaders in the global movement to end climate change."

In Vermont, ExxonMobil has been continuously singled out in the state pension divestment campaign. In January, Gov. Shumlin called for divestiture from coal holdings and ExxonMobil, a call matched by House Resolution H.R.13 and a letter signed by a majority of the Vermont Senate, both directed to the State Treasure.

"[this is] Just one more reason for the State to divest from Exxon as soon as possible,” said Senator Anthony Pollina. "We expect the Attorney General and the State of Vermont to help us put an end to Exxon's lies and greedy pursuit of profits at the expense of our environment, our planet and our future. This investigation is an important, necessary and frankly a no-brainer if we are ever going to hold them accountable.”

“Exxon is feeling the pressure from every direction as climate activist, government officials, and a minority of their own shareholders are calling for accountability” said Austin Davis, Policy & Communications Coordinator at 350Vermont. “The failure of shareholder resolutions at yesterday’s shareholder meeting in Dallas are no surprise. At this point there is no excuse for not divesting from such a company. Noble failure can no longer serve as moral cover, and we need to both divest from this company, and bring it to justice. That is why we are here today.”

 

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About 350Vermont: 350Vermont is a statewide organization in Vermont working to build a grassroots movement to reverse climate change. 350Vermont’s mission is to catalyze the cultural and systemic transformation needed to reverse climate change and return to 350 ppm of carbon in the atmosphere. Although we are an affiliated group of 350.org with a similar mission, 350VT is an independent organization, with local campaigns to divest the state pension fund, advocate for a carbon pollution tax, and stop any expansion of fossil fuel infrastructure.  Learn more at www.350Vermont.org

About Vermont Businesses for Social Responsibility: Founded in 1990, VBSR is a statewide, non-profit business association with a mission to advance a business ethic that values multiple bottom lines: economic, social, and environmental. Through education, public influence, and workplace quality, VBSR strives to help 760+ members set a high standard for protecting the natural, human, and economic environments of the state's residents, while remaining profitable. Learn more or join the cause at www.vbsr.org.