Outraged Californians are bombarding the state attorney general's office with demands that the agency launch an investigation into ExxonMobil to examine the company's history of climate denial in the face of its own scientific evidence that global warming poses a danger to the planet.
Nearly 9,000 people have signed a petition circulated by the California League of Conservation Voters. Pleading for "justice for our communities and our planet," the petition calls on California Attorney General Kamala Harris to pursue a probe of Exxon, the largest publicly traded oil and gas company in the world.
The petition drive, one of several such online appeals in California and across the country, was launched in the wake of an investigative series of stories by InsideClimate News. The series revealed the company was aware of the potentially catastrophic consequences of rising levels of atmospheric CO2 associated with burning fossil fuels yet charted a path of climate denial.
"The case against ExxonMobil has grown stronger every day since InsideClimate News broke the story: As early as 1977, #ExxonKnew their fuels caused climate change and predicted the devastating impacts we're beginning to see today—but they've been lying about it to the public and shareholders ever since," according to the petition.
The conservation voters' petition praises Harris as a "climate champion" for having taken on environmental cases in the past and for committing to defend President Obama's Clean Power Plan in court.
"Now, we're asking A.G. Harris to once again demonstrate bold leadership on climate change by launching a full investigation into Exxon's climate change distortions—and we want her to make them pay," the petition said.
Kristin Ford, a spokeswoman for Harris, said: "We can't comment on any potential or ongoing investigations, or even confirm or deny an investigation, to protect the integrity of our investigations."
The following comments, all from Californians, were among the thousands sent to Harris' office since the California League of Conservation Voters petition drive started Nov. 20.
"This should be considered the crime of the millennium. It is so egregious, so giant in its scope, literally dealing with the entire planet and all life that it contains, that it is hard to comprehend."
"I hope Exxon is prosecuted, and its CEOs, managers and paid PR firms who were aware of the research will be criminally prosecuted as well—for putting life on the planet at risk of extinction so as to acquire financial wealth for themselves. If possible put a lien on, then confiscate, all assets of these individuals and their heirs. No benefit should remain for the greed, and no concern is deserved for those who would risk killing our future."
"I've learned that intentional lying is often business strategy. Lying to the world populace about your product causing global climate change is about as big a lie as can be conceived. The punishment for such a campaign of deliberate corporate deception should be painful indeed."
Ken L. Klaser
"Please do everything you can to make sure the guilty are made to answer for these crimes, to make sure others know they cannot get away with this, and to tell our descendants we did everything we could to protect them and their world."
"Kamala, I have a two-year-old grandson with my second grandchild on the way. I almost told my daughter to not have children because they would be facing a steadily deteriorating world because of the actions of companies such as ExxonMobil. These companies must be held accountable for their misdeeds. Please continue to do everything in your power to reverse this devastation."
"Never before in the history of the world has there been a criminal conspiracy as damaging as this one. Never has there been one more venal. ALL of the perpetrators of this vile crime against Creation itself should spend the rest of their lives behind bars, stripped of every penny they ever touched."
"It's time to show our planet earth matters! It's time to show the lives of billions of people matter! And, NO, corporations do not have carte blanche to knowingly lie, block climate change action and promote false science! Wrong is Wrong! And Exxon should pay!"
"A global energy company has the moral obligation to look forward to the consequences of current activities and integrate their actions with other energy companies to understand the impact of their business practices and consequences to the global human domain. They are not and should not be allowed to be 'for our profit only—world be damned.'"
"This potential case against ExxonMobil is a significant opportunity to bring science and law together to improve the environment, creating a healthier, safer, and economically more stable future. Please support and encourage the development of this investigation and pursue this case."
"As a result of Exxon's self-serving actions, all of humanity has lost irretrievable time debating the reality of catastrophic climate destabilization rather than working together to mitigate it; that lost time means we must now face one of the greatest threats human civilization has ever known ... a common and global threat which was completely avoidable."
Rose Ann Witt
"Merely investigating Exxon will send a warning to all of the climate change deniers, including politicians, that they may be held accountable for the dire consequences of insufficient action to reverse CO2 buildup..."
"There is no hopeful tomorrow without conscientious care of the present. The calculating and callous disregard by Exxon for a viable environment is a criminal act that must not go on."
"We can no longer suffer the effects of the greed of those who put their personal and corporate profit over the health of our people and our planet! It would seem that the most effective way to get ExxonMobil to understand that their policies are destructive to our world and inexcusably greedy is to make them pay for the ruin they have wrought!"