Eco-Activists Met ‘Behind Closed Doors’ To Push RICO Investigation Into Exxon

Bill MckibbenBill McKibbenEnvironmental activists met behind closed doors in January to coordinate on how best to get government prosecutors to go after ExxonMobil for allegedly misleading the public about global warming, according to documents obtained by The Wall Street Journal.

“A key meeting in the new push unfolded in January behind the closed doors of a Manhattan office building,” the WSJ reported Wednesday. “The session brought together about a dozen people, including Kenny Bruno, a veteran of environmental campaigns, and Bill McKibben, founder of, two activists who helped lead the successful fight to block the Keystone XL pipeline.”

Environmentalists want “to establish in public’s mind that Exxon is a corrupt institution that has pushed humanity (and all creation) toward climate chaos and grave harm,” according to a meeting agenda obtained by WSJ. The whole point of this closed door meeting was to come up with ways to convince the Justice Department to follow the lead of state attorneys general and investigate Exxon. Activists want the DOJ to go after Exxon using the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act, or RICO — an anti-mafia law.

“Their hope is to encourage state attorneys general and the U.S. Justice Department to launch investigations and lawsuits that ultimately will change Exxon’s behavior, force it to pay big damages and drive public attention to climate change,” WSJ reported.

Since November, three other attorneys general have launched investigations into Exxon. The AG of the U.S. Virgin Islands launched the first volley in the anti-Exxon probe by sending a subpoena to the Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI), a libertarian think tank. The AGs are basing their investigations on reports from InsideClimate News and Columbia University claiming Exxon knew about the dangers of global warming for decades while funding groups skeptical of warming.

But both InsideClimate News and the Columbia reporters are funded by the Rockefeller Family Fund (RFF) — the very same group hosting the January meeting to push federal prosecution of Exxon.

“It’s about helping the larger public understand the urgencies of finding climate solutions,” Lee Wasserman, RFF’s director, told WSJ. “It’s not really about Exxon.”

InsideClimate and Columbia’s Energy and Environmental Reporting Project, however, are financed by left-wing foundations looking to ban fossil fuels. Aside from RFF, the foundation most aggressively campaigning to end fossil fuel use is the Rockefeller Brothers Fund (RBF) — the heirs of Standard Oil founder John D. Rockefeller. Exxon is one of the many companies eventually spun off from Standard Oil. RBF funds InsideClimate News and Columbia University’s Energy and Environmental Reporting Project, which put out the anti-Exxon articles.

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