An investigative report from the Center for Media and Democracy (CMD) recently revealed that Republican attorneys general held private, undisclosed meetings with fossil fuel lobbyists in July to coordinate on shielding ExxonMobil as the corporation faces investigations and public opposition around its climate deception and potential fraud.
Recent reports also revealed that the Republican Attorneys General Association (RAGA) has received a staggering amount of financial donations from fossil fuel-funded groups, including $100,000 from ExxonMobil since 2015, $353,250 from Koch Industries, $250,000 from Murray Energy, and $100,000 from the American Petroleum Institute since 2015. According to materials reviewed by CMD, in total, fossil fuel interests, utilities and their trade groups have given more than $2.25 million to RAGA since 2015.
The RAGA meeting this past July also held a panel “Climate Change Debate — How Speech Is Being Stifled,” which did not include any scientific reports. Instead, the panel featured Myron Ebell of the Competitive Enterprise Institute, who is now Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump’s top energy advisor, as well as other industry executives that have donated heavily to RAGA.
As far back as the 1970s, Exxon’s own scientists warned the company’s executives about the devastating impacts of fossil fuel use on changing our climate change. Instead of heeding these warnings, Exxon’s executives embarked on a decades-long campaign to sow deception and doubt and block climate action at every level.
In response to the recent revelation that Republican attorneys general met with industry lobbyists, environmental and climate justice organizations issued the following statements:
Jamie Henn, spokesperson for 350 Action, said “This is a smoking gun when it comes to fossil fuel industry corruption. These recordings are more evidence that Big Oil is bankrolling Republican Attorneys General’s attacks on climate legislation and the Exxon Knew investigation. It’s just like Big Tobacco, but this time the entire planet is at stake. Instead of subpoenaing 350.org, maybe Rep. Lamar Smith should look at his own party’s dirty dealings with these fossil fuel corporations and their front groups.”
RL Miller, cofounder of Climate Hawks Vote, said: “Republican attorneys general are working for Exxon. Silly me, I thought they were supposed to be working for the people.”
Nick Surgey, Director of Research at the Center for Media and Democracy, said: “The great irony here is that we have heard false cries from the Republican attorneys general about a conspiracy between environmental groups and the Democratic attorneys generals. But these documents reveal a serious conflict of interest: RAGA is facilitating secret meetings between the profit-motivated fossil fuel industry and attorneys general to engineer pushback on investigations into ExxonMobil— and then raising money from oil and gas companies to keep those same Republican attorneys general in office.”
Katherine Sawyer, Senior International Organizer at Corporate Accountability International, said: “The recently-exposed collusion between Republican attorneys general and fossil fuel lobbyists exemplifies exactly why we need to kick big polluters out of climate policymaking. These attorneys general have a duty to serve the people, not the interests of fossil fuel corporations. It is unconscionable that financial contributions and closed-door meetings may have persuaded these attorneys general to turn a blind eye to Exxon’s decades of climate deception.”
Billy Corriher, Director of Research for Legal Progress at the Center for American Progress Action Fund, said: “Money in politics is a critical threat to our democracy, and nowhere is that more apparent these days than in the fossil fuel lobby. This report makes clear Attorney General Luther Strange and others have been taking their cues from Big Oil with attempts to block climate action and publicly criticize the investigations of other attorneys general. The Republican Attorneys General Association itself has taken millions from the dirty energy industry, and then convened meetings such as this where behind-the-scenes coordination takes place. The last thing Americans need is for their state attorneys general to become pay-to-play.”
Mary Nicol, Climate & Energy Campaigner at Greenpeace USA, said: “The undisclosed Republican Attorneys General Association meetings with fossil fuel lobbyists are like a speed-dating service for corporations looking for a friendly face. It is no surprise that this exposé found RAGA and affiliated groups were instrumental in organizing the response defending Exxon from a growing number of investigations.”
Brandy Doyle, Campaign Manager at ClimateTruth.org, said: “Exxon has its financial tentacles wrapped around our political system – from the Republican Attorneys General Association to Congress. Until candidates stop taking their cash, oil and gas companies will continue to pollute our democracy. We applaud the courage of attorneys general who have persisted in investigating Exxon for decades of deception on climate change. This investigation will not be silenced, and neither will public outrage at Exxon’s grip on our elected officials.”