Three U.S. House Democrats are calling for the Department of Justice (DOJ) to investigate whether Shell Oil misled the public about climate change.
According to the L.A. Times, U.S. Rep. Ted Lieu of California, Rep. Peter Welch of Vermont and Rep. Matt Cartwright of Pennsylvania sent a letter earlier this week asking the DOJ to investigate whether Shell “intentionally” hid information about climate change and engaged in a “misinformation” campaign.
The letter also suggests that Shell, ExxonMobil and potentially other energy firms were involved in a “conspiracy ” to obscure the impact of climate change.
The letter cites an L.A. Times investigation published in December that claims Shell redesigned a $3 billion North Sea platform to allow the facility to operate amid rising sea levels.
A Shell spokesman told the paper that Shell has included information about climate change and the challenges it poses in its publications, including its annual reports and Sustainability Report, for over 10 years.
“Recognizing the climate challenge and the role energy has in enabling a decent quality of life, we continue to pursue and advance constructive dialogue on this topic as the challenge is one for all of society,” the spokesman told the L.A. Times.
In October, Lieu sent a letter to the DOJ asking it to determine if Exxon misled the public about climate change and violated the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act, commonly known as RICO.
Citing investigations conducted by the L.A. Times, Inside Climate News and Columbia University’s Energy and Environmental Reporting Project, Lieu also asked the DOJ to determine if Exxon violated shareholder protection, public health, truth in advertising, consumer protection and other laws.
Exxon has denied any wrongdoing and said it has provided “continuous and publicly available climate research” that refutes claims that the firm deliberately suppressed data.”
“These activists took those statements out of context and ignored other readily available statements demonstrating that our researchers recognized the developing nature of climate science at the time which, in fact, mirrored global understanding,” Exxon vice president of public and government affairs Ken Cohen said in response to Lieu’s letter.
Exxon confirmed in November that it received a subpoena from the attorney general of New York relating to climate change documents.
Exxon added that it has included information about the business risk posed by climate change for many years in its 10-K, Corporate Citizenship Report and in other reports to shareholders.
The New York Times reported that month that New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman has been investigating the company for about a year and may be looking at information dating back to the 1970s.
Schneiderman is reportedly investigating whether Exxon misled investors by failing to disclose the potential impact climate change could have on its business.
The New York Attorney General’s Office has not commented on the matter.