Fighting back against Big Lies on climate change and the environment — and winning

04.10.2018

BY AMANDA MARCOTTE

In the age of Donald Trump, one could be forgiven for believing that truth has lost all value. As of March 1, Trump had reportedly told 2,436 public lies, an average of six a day during his 13 months in office. That number doesn't even encompass the firehose of misinformation coming out of his administration, much less the right-wing media network that's geared towards propagandizing on behalf of Dear Leader. It's easy to despair, because it frequently seems there are no consequences for all this lying and that huge percentages of Americans have flatly decided they don't care about facts any longer.

But when it comes to the issue of the environment, there's reason to believe — at least for now — that there's still some value to having the facts on your side. There are at least two reasons for this. Environmental laws, as written, still have high evidentiary standards that conservatives simply cannot ignore. Secondly, attorneys general in blue states are ready to put huge amounts of resources to make it difficult for corporate interests and their friends in the Trump administration to hide, deny or distort the facts to support their pro-pollution agenda.

At the end of March, environmentalists quietly scored another victory against efforts to conceal the truth about climate change, when a federal judge ruled against ExxonMobil in a transparency case. In 2016, in response to reporting that found ExxonMobil executives had hidden the truth about climate change from investors and customers for decades, New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman and Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey opened investigations into the oil giant to find out whether the pattern of deceit was legally actionable. Exxon sued in retaliation, claiming the investigation was politically biased, and lost.

Exxon has run a scorched earth campaign to avoid answering our basic questions about the company’s awareness of climate change," Healey told Salon in an emailed statement. "Massachusetts customers and investors deserve answers from Exxon about what it has known about the impact of burning fossil fuels on its business and the planet, and whether it hid this information from the public."

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