Exxon’s Long Con

At long last, have they no decency? Of course not.

ExxonMobil—still reeling from reports that the company knew that its fossil fuels were fueling a climate crisis—is crying victim in court, claiming that mean environmentalists are targeting the company for destruction. Pardon me as I reach for the handkerchief:

ExxonMobil is trying to turn the tables on its climate change opponents.

The oil company said it’s the victim of a vast “conspiracy,” brought on by multiple cities and counties in California.

San Francisco, Oakland and other municipalities have sued Exxon, demanding the oil giant and its rivals pay billions to cover damage from looming sea level rise due to climate change.

In a court filing in Texas on Monday, Exxon argued that these California cities and counties have contradicted themselves by admitting in bond sales that climate change risks are unpredictable…

In the court filing, Exxon requested permission to investigate potential “abuse of process” and “civil conspiracy” by deposing 16 individuals, including city officials from Oakland and San Francisco who are leading the lawsuit against the company.

If this BS isn’t enough, get a load of this claim:

The Exxon claims mark the latest flashpoint between Big Oil and opponents of the fossil fuel industry.

The long-running battle accelerated last year when San Francisco and Oakland became the first major U.S. cities to attempt to shift the costs of climate change from the public to oil companies themselves. The Bay Area cities demanded Exxon, Chevron, BP, ConocoPhillips and Royal Dutch Shell pay for the costs of sea walls and other protections against rising sea levels.

In the petition filed on Monday, Exxon paints itself as a victim of “abusive law enforcement tactics and litigation” by those trying to achieve “political objectives.”

“Abusive law enforcement tactics.” In other words, ExxonMobil is saying, in effect, that they can’t breathe. Seriously?

This sort of abhorrent behavior is unsurprising from the folks who used to run ads on the op-ed pages of the New York Times downplaying the threat carbon pollution posed to future generations. ExxonMobil points to its public support for carbon pricing as a defense against accusations of climate cruelty. Well, if ExxonMobil is sincere, the company will throw its full media and lobbying weight behind Washington Governor Jay Inslee’s efforts to tax carbon in the Evergreen State:

Gov. Jay Inslee Tuesday urged Washington lawmakers to embrace his ambitious plan to tax fossil-fuel emissions in Washington state.

In his State of the State address, the governor implored legislators to cast aside their reservations and adopt a plan to tackle climate change in this year’s short, 60-day legislative session.

“It is time to step up,” Inslee told lawmakers at the Capitol. The impacts of climate change, he added, “will be carried by our children, our economy, our security and our quality of life.”

But as in recent years, Inslee’s plan faces steep hurdles in Olympia…

A carbon tax has not found support with GOP lawmakers.

Republican Senate Minority Deputy Leader Sharon Brown, of Kennewick, described Inslee’s proposal as “economy-crippling new energy taxes …”

“The energy tax that the governor proposes would drive up the cost of motor fuel and electricity, imposing a huge burden on struggling families,” Brown said.

Now, ExxonMobil could use its influence to convince Brown and other Republicans in the Evergreen State to reconsider their opposition to this sound policy. Will the fossil-fuel colossus do so? Yeah, right. I have a better chance of getting married to Jennifer Lawrence.

If anyone criticizes Inslee for his views about the urgency of the climate crisis, all Inslee has to do is point to the extreme weather events that have afflicted fellow West Coasters in California. Inslee and New York Mayor Bill de Blasio are demonstrating the sort of climate leadership we need to see, now more than ever, in Washington. How long will it take before such leadership returns to Washington?

D.R. Tucker

D. R. Tucker is a Massachusetts-based journalist who has served as the weekend contributor for the Washington Monthly since May 2014. He has also written for the Huffington Post, the Washington Spectator, the Metrowest Daily News, investigative journalist Brad Friedman's Brad Blog and environmental journalist Peter Sinclair's Climate Crocks.