weather icon Clear

EDITORIAL: The bully pulpit of climate change

According to a spokesman from ExxonMobil, the company has spent 40 years doing climate research in conjunction with the Department of Energy, academics and the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, and the company has made that research publicly available. But since the company exercised its right not to reach definitive conclusions on climate change — despite the fact that, at the same time, many of the world’s experts were also exercising that same right — ExxonMobil says it has been the target of environmental activists, who have been deliberately distorting materials from the company’s archives in an attempt to get the government to investigate ExxonMobil.

Sadly, their efforts were successful.

As reported by Kate Sheppard of the Huffington Post, Reps. Ted Lieu and Mark DeSaulnier, House Democrats from California who were persuaded by environmental groups’ smear tactics, approached the Department of Justice last fall to look into whether ExxonMobil violated the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act or any other federal laws. The company was allegedly “organizing a sustained deception campaign disputing climate science and failing to disclose truthful information to investors and the public.”

Rep. Lieu says he believes the company was working publicly to undermine climate science, and that its actions are on par with tobacco companies who were guilty of “lying to the American people” by denying the link between smoking and cancer in order “to better sell their product.” Just as the DOJ used RICO law to prosecute tobacco companies in the late 1990s, Rep. Lieu says he would “would hope for a prosecution” of ExxonMobil if the facts warrant it.

While there is no clear indication of how seriously the DOJ is considering the congressmen’s witch hunt, the agency has at least humored the congressmen by announcing that it has forwarded the case to the FBI in order to determine the validity of such an investigation — an investigation that the environmental lobby and Democratic presidential candidates Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders fully support.

If the FBI decides to open an investigation, the move would be motivated entirely by political considerations. The last time we checked, there is no crime in being skeptical of climate change or advocating for policies that aid ExxonMobil’s interests. An investigation would simply be Democrats and the environmental lobby seeking a big scalp.

Furthermore, such an investigation is a trampling of First Amendment rights. ExxonMobil is under no obligation to worship at the altar of climate change, nor is any other company or individual. There is no constitutional rationale for punishing the company for its actions relating to dubious climate change claims, and the FBI shouldn’t humor Democrats or environmental lobbyists any longer on this issue. There should be no further investigation.

Don't miss the big stories. Like us on Facebook.