corporate influence


Photo: Alan Grinsberg/Flickr

Six Key Facts Ignored in Dismissal of California Climate Suits vs. Fossil Fuel Companies

, climate accountability campaign manager

This week, U.S. District Judge William Alsup dismissed lawsuits by San Francisco and Oakland seeking to hold fossil fuel companies accountable for their contributions to climate change. Judge Alsup’s ruling dangerously rested on balancing climate harms with fossil energy benefits, deferred to legislative- and executive-branch solutions that major fossil fuel companies have spent millions opposing, seriously underplayed the role of ExxonMobil and others in spreading disinformation about climate science and policy, and punted on the question of who should pay for climate damages.

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Shareholders Not Playing Games at Big Oil Annual General Meetings

, climate accountability campaign manager

Major fossil fuel producers are holding their annual general meetings (AGMs) this month amid mounting pressure from investors, increasing risks of legal liability for climate damages, and heightened scrutiny of their lobbying and public policy advocacy. BP and Royal Dutch Shell host their AGMs this week; ExxonMobil and Chevron will follow next week.

If shareholder meetings were classic game shows, and investors were keeping score, fossil fuel companies would be coming up short. Read more >

©corlaffra/Shutterstock.com
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Sonny Perdue’s USDA Is in Bed with Big Pork. That’s Really Bad for Everyone Else.

, senior analyst, Food and Environment

In his first year running the US Department of Agriculture, Secretary Sonny Perdue has displayed a curious tendency to say things he really shouldn’t. The most recent example is his striking off-the-cuff comment about a big court judgment won by neighbors of a massive hog farm and its stinking cesspools in North Carolina. Read more >

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Betrayal at the USDA

, senior analyst, Food and Environment

Unqualified government employees. Elected officials using their positions for personal gain. Policymakers favoring industry and disregarding science. Such betrayals of the public trust have become commonplace in the Trump administration. And while there’s been plenty of press coverage of HUD Secretary Ben Carson’s lavish dining set, EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt’s shady condo deal, and President Trump choosing the White House physician to lead the VA, the same pattern is apparent in corners of the administration that have received less scrutiny.

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Photo: Preston Keres/USDA
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In Australia, Too, Shareholders Demand Climate Transparency from Fossil Fuel Companies

, climate accountability campaign manager

[Update December 19, 2017, 1:16pm] BHP Billiton Limited issued its promised report on the material differences between the company’s positions on climate and energy policy and the advocacy positions on climate and energy policy taken by industry associations to which BHP belongs. Based on its review, the company has decided to withdraw from the World Coal Association and to reconsider its membership in the US Chamber of Commerce. BHP will formally communicate with the Minerals Council of Australia (MCA) over the inconsistencies between its position and those of the MCA, request that the MCA refrain from policy activity or advocacy in those area, and review its membership in the MCA if the association has not heeded that request within a year.

BHP’s report and the actions the company has taken based on it are a significant step forward for transparency and accountability of corporate lobbying. UCS and our supporters will be urging other major fossil fuel companies to match BHP’s disclosures and to ensure that the climate-related positions of their trade associations and industry groups are aligned with their own.

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Fig. 2 from Frumhoff, Heede, Oreskes (2015) based on data from Heede (2014)
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