Who wants to be a climate accountability hero?
Members of Congress look into climate disinformation, Todd Kim is confirmed to lead the DOJ environmental division, and Steven Donziger is convicted.
Emily Sanders is the Center for Climate Integrity’s editorial lead. Catch up with her on Twitter here.
This week in EXXONKNEWS: Congress requests an interview with the senior Exxon lobbyist who was caught on tape last month spilling the beans on the company’s climate deception. The Senate confirms a new assistant attorney general whose purview will cover holding polluters accountable. And Steven Donziger, the lawyer who took down Chevron and has been paying for it ever since, was found guilty and could spend up to six months in jail.
We’re here with the details and what it all means for ongoing efforts to hold corporate polluters accountable.
Members of Congress are demanding answers from Exxon.
Hey, remember that Exxon lobbyist who got caught on tape revealing the company’s behind-the-scenes tactics to undermine climate policy and attack climate science? Well now, powerful members of Congress are demanding that he sit down to answer some questions.
On Monday, Representatives Carolyn Maloney, Chairwoman of the House Committee on Oversight and Reform, and Ro Khanna, Chairman of the House Subcommittee on Environment officially asked that lobbyist, Keith McCoy, for an interview about the fossil fuel industry’s efforts to “spread climate disinformation, including through the use of ‘shadow groups,’ in order to block action to address climate change.”
The interview, proposed for August 9, would assist members of Congress in a broader investigation of the fossil fuel industry’s shady lobbying tactics on climate and environmental policy issues. Whether or not McCoy willingly submits to questioning, Khanna has made clear his willingness to subpoena oil giant executives to testify if that’s what it will take to get the American people the answers they deserve.
The representatives requested an answer from McCoy by today, so stay tuned.
The Justice Department (finally) has a new environmental chief.
On Tuesday, the Senate confirmed Todd Kim, a former trial lawyer and D.C. solicitor general, and one-time Who Wants to be a Millionaire? contestant, to lead the Department of Justice’s Environment and Natural Resources Division. As we’ve discussed previously, President Biden has pledged to order the DOJ to “strategically support ongoing plaintiff-driven climate litigation against polluters” — but six months into his presidency, the department has still not reversed its Trump-era support of Big Oil in climate accountability cases.
Could Kim be the person to make clear that Biden’s DOJ stands with the American people, not polluters? He will take office following urgent requests from six attorneys general and nine U.S. Senators for the department to support the growing number of lawsuits filed by states and municipalities seeking to hold major fossil fuel companies accountable for their climate deception.
As communities across the country are devastated by the climate disasters that Big Oil predicted, caused, and lied about, we hope Kim heeds the growing calls for DOJ action.
Following his “Kafkaesque” trial and years-long house arrest, Steven Donziger has been found guilty of contempt.
EXXONKNEWS previously covered the remarkably corrupt, Chevron-sponsored legal battle that landed human rights attorney Steven Donziger on house arrest for over 600 days, his law license and passport revoked. Donziger has now been convicted of contempt of court, and could face up to six months in prison.
U.S. District Judge Loretta Preska delivered Donziger’s conviction on Monday, pronouncing him guilty on six counts of contempt after he refused to turn over decades of client communications with Indigenous defendants in Ecuador from a $9.5 billion judgment he won against Chevron in 2011 for the company’s prolific dumping of toxic waste in the Amazonian rainforest.
As Donziger and many others have noted, this was an unprecedented outcome for a misdemeanor charge against a legal advocate in the United States — and it’s no coincidence that one of the world’s largest and most powerful polluters was at the helm, carrying out a strategy to demonize the lawyer that dared challenge Chevron.
“Judge Preska’s decision today is the latest attempt by Chevron and its judicial allies to criminalize me and to send a message of intimidation to legitimate human rights lawyers who successfully challenge the major polluters of the fossil fuel industry,” Donziger said in a statement.
In the meantime, the Indigenous peoples of the Ecuadorian Amazon continue to suffer the consequences of Chevron’s actions without receiving justice or the damages they are owed.
The stakes for holding this industry accountable — and pressure from the public and policymakers to do so — have never been higher. If you’re so inclined, encourage your friends and family to sign up for EXXONKNEWS where we’ll keep you informed about what’s to come.
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