Misleading #ExxonKnew Ad Shows Campaign Always About Politics

A new #ExxonKnew campaign ad released today by the League of Conservation Voters (LCV) targeting a House candidate in Nevada only provides further evidence that politics is what’s driving the entire effort.

The ramifications of this ad are significant, considering that a federal district judge has just issued a discovery order raising questions about the political motivations of the Democratic Attorneys General, who over the past year, have launched extremely controversial and unprecedented climate investigations into ExxonMobil.

LCV’s #ExxonKnew ad pushes misinformation

The ad makes the claim,

“Newly released documents show oil giant Exxon had scientific evidence 40 years ago that climate change is being fueled by carbon pollution and spent millions covering it up, propping up politicians to block action to protect us.”

This claim comes directly from a series of articles by the Columbia School of Journalism (which appeared late last year in the LA Times) and InsideClimate News (ICN) – both of which are funded by the Rockefeller Brothers Fund. But a closer look at the documents shows that ICN and Columbia simply cherry-picked them to make these claims. To provide just one example, ICN purports that Exxon scientist James Black warned Exxon executives that “if the CO2 concentration continued to rise, it could harm the environment and humankind.” But here’s a section from Black’s presentation that ICN just left out because it didn’t go with their predetermined narrative:

“A number of assumptions and uncertainties are involved in the predictions of the Greenhouse Effect […]There is considerable uncertainty regarding what controls the exchange of atmospheric CO2 with oceans and with carbonaceous materials on the continents.”

EID has many more examples here. But the important point is that the #ExxonKnew argument was so weak that New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, after proclaiming he had launched an investigation into what Exxon “knew,” ended up having to abandon it and change his justification altogether (for more on that click here).

#ExxonKnew didn’t sell well with the AGs in Schneiderman’s climate coalition, either. FOIA’d emails revealed that a number of AGs have been running for the hills over the past few months as this campaign has fallen apart. One AG called Schneiderman a “wild card” and another said being associated with his investigation makes them “nervous.”

That’s not to mention that just about every legal expert has said Schneiderman doesn’t have a case. Editorial boards and columnists across the country have slammed these investigations for violations of free speech and having a “flimsy” legal basis. Bloomberg has called the AGs’ actions a “dangerous arrogation of power” while Reuters noted that Schneiderman “did not have strong case.” New York Post put it bluntly saying the #ExxonKnew campaign “is on a fast track to disaster.”

LCV funders same as those behind #ExxonKnew campaign + Tom Steyer

It will come as no surprise that the primary funders of #Exxonknew are also major funders of LCV. The Rockefeller Brothers Fund, Rockefeller Family Fund and Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors, which have bankrolled pretty much the entire #ExxonKnew campaign, have combined given $2.272 million to LCV since 2009. The Energy Foundation – another huge backer of #ExxonKnew – has given LCV $1.775 million from 2010-2014.

And then there is the role of California billionaire activist Tom Steyer. During the 2014 election cycle, the Washington Post called Steyer “a major LCV funder” noting,

There’s not a day that goes by that someone on our team doesn’t talk to someone on the Steyer team,” [LCV President Gene] Karpinski said.

This connection between Steyer and the #ExxonKnew campaign is made all the more interesting considering that Steyer just told Politico that he hasn’t been involved. As he said, “We’re definitely not pushing this thing…we are not part of this effort.”

Of course, Steyer failed to mention that his group, NextGen Climate, actually organized a rally in April in an effort to get New Hampshire Attorney General Joseph Foster to “join the investigation of Exxon Mobil.” And the New York Post revealed that New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, the ringleader of the #ExxonKnew circus, tried to hit up Steyer for donations to his future gubernatorial bid on the back of his investigation into Exxon.

So here’s what we know: the AGs launching investigations into ExxonMobil claim their effort isn’t political, but this new ad reveals that’s rubbish. And, while Tom Steyer has claimed he’s not involved in the #ExxonKnew campaign, we now know that he’s pouring hundreds of thousands into a political group that’s pushing #ExxonKnew.




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