It’s our very first EXXONKNEWSiversary!
Here are some of the greatest hits from over the past year.
Good morning and Happy Friday. And it is a happy Friday — as we explained last week, Joe Biden’s victory could open new doors in the fight to hold polluters accountable for cascading climate damages across the country. We have plenty of work ahead of us — but before we get to that, I think it’s time we take a minute to celebrate and reflect. Because guess what?
It’s our one-year anniversary, EXXONKNEWSers!
That’s right! For the past year, we’ve been piecing together the ongoing story of the fossil fuel industry’s campaigns to spread disinformation and derail climate action — and the growing movement to bring these companies to justice. It seems like a good time to look back on what we’ve covered over this rollercoaster of a year — the good, the bad, and the exceedingly shady.
We covered a growing wave of new lawsuits filed by communities against oil and gas majors.
Since last November, we’ve reported on nine (9!) new cases brought by cities and states against fossil fuel giants for defrauding the public about the dangerous climate consequences of their products, and for the costs of adapting to a range of now-unrelenting climate disasters. They include the states of Massachusetts, Minnesota, Delaware, and Connecticut, as well as the City & County of Honolulu, Hawaiʻi, Washington, D.C., Hoboken, New Jersey, Charleston, South Carolina, and Maui County, Hawaiʻi.
We also followed communities’ existing climate liability suits as they moved their way through the courts — like these eight municipalities in California and the city and county of Boulder and San Miguel County in Colorado as they argued for their cases to be sent back to state court. Litigation is a powerful tool for communities seeking justice from Big Oil, and over the past few months we all got to watch the momentum for climate liability soar.
We profiled communities navigating the devastating local costs of climate disasters and local solutions to make polluters pay.
It would’ve already been a hard year for cities and towns pummeled by record hurricanes, wildfires, and other extreme weather events this year — but COVID-19 really piled it on in terms of exacerbated public health risks, diminished local budgets, and the disastrous consequences of science denial and disinformation. We spoke with experts and community leaders in North Carolina, where Black and Indigenous communities face a feedback loop of climate disasters and an uphill battle to recovery; in Iowa, where rampant flooding is eating away at livelihoods and local budgets; in Louisiana and in Arizona, where the deadly ripple effects of fossil fuel pollution, de-regulation, and the pandemic converged.
It wasn’t all gloom and doom, though: we also learned about advocates and elected officials who are finding new ways to hold corporate polluters accountable for their fair share of the damage.
We looked into shady business at the federal level...
...of which there was no shortage. Never forget that just as COVID-19 started to spread rampantly in the U.S., President Trump hosted a gathering of oil company executives in the White House to talk about bailouts — just as the industry was pushing through a very long list of health and safety de-regulations in the middle of a pandemic. Or when language giving the “energy” sector blanket immunity from liability lawsuits almost wound up in the first coronavirus stimulus package. Then there was the time the U.S. Department of Justice was suspected of tampering with an investigation into a hacking scheme targeting climate activists.
Most recently, we took a look at now-Justice Amy Coney Barrett’s ties to some of the biggest funders of climate denial and deception. What a time to be alive.
We waded through Big Oil’s still ongoing campaigns of deception —
Like how they use Twitter as a platform to promote lies and greenwashing (we’ve got an analysis to prove it), or the dark money front groups they use to defend their reputation. We also spoke to a group that sued Exxon this year for lying about its commitments to address climate change and reduce emissions. Suffice it to say that the industry’s deception game is alive and well, and our eyes remain peeled.
And we uplifted the voices of folks who are changing the narrative.
Some of my personal favorites were interviews with journalists, advocates, and local leaders who are working to center their communities’ experiences and visions for a fairer future. We spoke with musician and climate advocate Bartees Strange about environmental justice and how the climate movement can do better to uplift folks on the frontlines. We interviewed poet and journalist Mario Ariza about his new book on the precarious possibilities of climate resilience in Miami. And we heard from law students Manny Rutinel and Alisa White, who are working to hold top law firms accountable for the climate-wrecking clients they choose to represent.
All in all, this year has been… a journey, to say the least, but a very promising one for the world of climate accountability — and we wouldn’t be here without you. There is so much more work to be done yet, and we’ll be keeping you in the loop all the way. So here is the part where I say: please share EXXONKNEWS with your friends, family, and any other stragglers out there who have yet to subscribe! And if you have ideas, questions, concerns, comments, epiphanies — feel free to shoot me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Until next week!
ICYMI News Roundup
New reporting from the New York Times sheds light on Exxon’s role in Energy in Depth, a website that publishes fake “grassroots” attacks on climate accountability.
Oil majors have a long way to go on setting emissions targets, let alone reaching them.
President-elect Biden could support communities looking to hold polluters accountable in court.