On January 12, 2016, the Los Angeles County Democratic Party unanimously passed a resolution calling upon California Attorney General Kamala Harris to investigate Exxon Mobil and fellow fossil fuel companies for potential breaches of California law based on their 1970s-era research into the science of climate change, then pouring millions into manufacturing doubt and denial of climate science. Exxon’s coverup has been well documented in the Los Angeles Times and InsideClimate News.
RL Miller, cofounder of Climate Hawks Vote, states: “The #ExxonKnew story broke on the Los Angeles Times on October 9, 2015. A Los Angeles-area member of Congress, Ted Lieu (CA-33), has asked the federal Department of Justice and Securities and Exchange Commission to get involved. Exxon does business in California and has California shareholders, and may have violated California law. Yet apparently the only thing California’s attorney general has done is read, in the New York Times, about the investigation begun by New York attorney general Eric Schneiderman. Thus, I wrote a resolution calling on her to act.”
Bill McKibben, founder of the climate group 350.org and a member of Climate Hawks Vote’s board of directors, states: “Few issues unite everyone concerned about climate like the news that Exxon knew about, and lied about, climate change. It’s not easy for elected officials to stand up to one of the biggest, richest companies in the country, but both Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders have called for a prompt, thorough investigation. Kamala Harris has the power to make that happen; let’s hope she doesn’t punt on this crucial test.”
Ted Lieu, Democratic member of Congress representing part of Los Angeles County, states: “I commend Los Angeles County Democrats for calling for the investigation of ExxonMobil. The company’s scientists confirmed the truth about the role of fossil fuels in influencing climate change decades ago, yet Exxon intentionally implemented a public campaign of mass deception about climate science. Exxon has set back all of humanity. I call on Attorney Generals everywhere to investigate ExxonMobil.”
The LACDP resolution is virtually identical to one passed by the Ventura County Democratic Party on December 8, 2015. Will other California county Democratic parties take up similar resolutions? Miller says only: “ask me in a month.”
Harris is running for Senate, where she faces a critical California Democratic Party endorsement vote on February 27. The Los Angeles County Democratic Party is the largest Democratic party in the state.
Text of the resolution follows:
CALLING UPON CALIFORNIA ATTORNEY GENERAL KAMALA HARRIS TO INVESTIGATE EXXON
WHEREAS, newly revealed documents show that Exxon’s own scientists were aware of and studying the dangerous impacts of greenhouse gases in the 1970s and 1980s, and shared that research with other fossil fuel companies — until Exxon’s leadership decided to shut down the research and promote climate denial instead, in order to protect the company’s large profits, as documented in the Los Angeles Times and InsideClimate News; and
WHEREAS, climate change fueled by Exxon among other fossil fuel companies has dramatically affected California, including an exceptional drought causing crop losses, heat-driven wildfires destroying homes, an anticipated record-breaking El Nino, sea level rise threatening the iconic California coastline, with impacts predicted to accelerate over time; and
WHEREAS, the California Attorney General has the power to bring civil and criminal actions against wrongdoers whose actions harm the people of the state of California;
THEREFORE be it resolved that the Los Angeles County Democratic Party calls upon state Attorney General Kamala Harris to investigate any breaches of California law by Exxon Mobil and all potentially liable entities, and pursue all available legal remedies; and
THEREFORE be it further resolved that this resolution be transmitted to the office of the California Attorney General, to the chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee Hannah-Beth Jackson, and to Governor Jerry Brown.
About Climate Hawks Vote: We’re a grassroots-funded organization building political power for the climate movement. Hatched in 2014, we endorsed 17 candidates and won 11 of those races. We hold politicians accountable through a sophisticated scorecard tracking not only votes, but also leadership and public engagement on climate. Our board of directors includes Bill McKibben and Jigar Shah.