On today's BradCast we are joined by Sharon Eubanks, the former federal prosecutor who served as the U.S. Dept. of Justice's lead counsel in the historic U.S. v. Phillip Morris USA case. It's an enlightening, eye-opening, and extraordinarily timely conversation. (Link to the complete audio is below.)
We now know, thanks to the investigative work of journalists at Inside Climate News and at the Los Angeles Times, that Exxon scientists, as early as 1977, knew about the "potentially catastrophic" dangers of global warming caused by the burning of fossil fuels.
Rather than take action to inform the world and save the planet, however, Exxon executives decided to spend millions of dollars, over the ensuing years, funding global warming denialist organizations in an apparent attempt to obscure their own science and mislead the public about the known harms of using their product.
[RELATED: "What Exxon Knew and When They Knew It": BradCast interview with Inside Climate News journalist Neela Banerjee]
[RELATED: "'Beyond Hypocrisy': Rep. Ted Lieu (D-CA) Calls for Investigation and Prosecution of ExxonMobil": BradCast interview with Congressman on the day he sent his letter to A.G. Loretta Lynch]
On today's program, Eubanks, who is now in private practice after successfully carrying out the largest civil Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) enforcement case ever filed, explains the currently known parallels between her case against Big Tobacco and the quickly mounting evidence against Big Oil which, she explains on The BradCast today, appear to be "very similar, if not identical".
"The [tobacco] industry sent out its talking heads to say how ridiculous it was when we first filed the suit, that we would file it under RICO," she tells me, after detailing exactly what a RICO case is. "It's an effective way to deal with this type of fraudulent conduct."
In the potential case against Big Oil and their advocates in the denial industry, she says, based on what the documents from insiders at Exxon have now revealed, "an investigation is warranted."
So, what are the parallels between the Big Tobacco case and what seems to have been carried out by Big Oil in this case? Eubanks says the evidence, so far, is "very similar, if not identical, to what the court was looking at in the tobacco litigation."
In Judge Gladys Kessler's 1,683-page finding [PDF] in the tobacco case, Eubanks explains, the court "noted that the industry mounted a coordinated, well-financed, sophisticated public relations campaign to attack and distort the scientific evidence demonstrating the relationship between smoking and disease, claiming that the link between the two was still an open question. Now, if you compare that to what we know about the Exxon documents so far, and just substitute, instead of 'adverse health effects', 'adverse climate effects', and substitute for 'smoking', 'carbon pollution', it seems to me that the activities surrounding that --- mounting a well-coordinated, well-financed public relations campaign to distort the scientific evidence and promote that there was an open question --- is the same thing we see that the [fossil fuel] industry is doing here."
"It seems to me, and this is what an investigation would reveal, that they were financing these activities by giving money and instructions --- not just money but instructions, as well --- to various groups who would be the deniers of climate change, when in fact Exxon knew climate change was real, and they knew, as well, that we had a limited amount of time on our hands to figure out how to address this."
And what of the "free speech" argument that the Fossil Fuel industry's advocates seem to be forwarding right now to justify misleading the public? Does the company and/or the industry have a Constitutional right to lie, as some have posited?
"The companies certainly were responsible for contradicting their own evidence that they had about climate change," Eubanks tells me. "Whether that's something they can do as a 'right' is something that is yet to be demonstrated. Certainly the tobacco industry was not allowed to go forward with that type of misconduct."
There was much more light shed on the entire fascinating issue during today's program. I'd encourage you to give the full show a listen!
Also today: A new poll finds that a majority of Americans correctly see guns as a far greater national security threat than terrorism --- even if Republican voters do not; Another new poll finds that Pope Francis' appeal for action on climate change has had a positive effect among the majority of Americans who are now concerned about global warming, but even more of an effect on Catholics; And, finally, we're joined by Desi Doyen with the latest Green News Report special coverage of this week's GOP Debate in Wisconsin and last week's Democratic Forum in South Carolina...
Download MP3 or listen to complete show online below...
(Snail mail support to "Brad Friedman, 7095 Hollywood Blvd., #594 Los Angeles, CA 90028" always welcome too!)