New documents reveal controversial environmental activist Robert F. Kennedy Jr. sent a memo in January 2016 to former New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman that argues for banning ExxonMobil from conducting business in the state of New York as a consequence for failing “to serve ‘the common good’” for allegedly misleading the public on the effects of climate change.
The memo advocates shutting down over 1,000 ExxonMobil gas stations across the state, which supply nearly a quarter of New York’s gasoline. Kennedy even told one reporter he “had numerous conversations with Schneiderman about it,” suggesting Kennedy believes the former attorney general may have seriously considered his proposal.
According to the New York Post, the Pace Environmental Litigation Clinic – an organization co-founded by RFK Jr. – sent a 17-page memo titled “Revocation of ExxonMobil Authority to do Business in New York” in January 2016 to then-NY AG Schneiderman, who had subpoenaed the company several weeks earlier. The memo was obtained by the Competitive Enterprise Institute via a public records request. Rather than a legal commentary that logically argues his belief that Exxon should be held accountable for its “four decade public fraud,” RFK Jr.’s document reads more like a diary entry that details his personal vendetta against the energy giant:
“ExxonMobil’s subterfuge amounts to a crime against humanity. … The costs of Exxon’s deceit to New Yorkers are impossible to quantify, but any accounting would produce horrendous sums…
“ExxonMobil has made itself the template for unsheathed arrogance of unregulated power, greed and callous disregard toward the cataclysmic misery presaged by its actions.
“If we are to have a functioning democracy and a legal system capable of providing justice and holding accountable the richest company in the country, then Exxon must pay a price for its four decade public fraud.” (emphasis added)
Kennedy says ExxonMobil does $4 billion annually in sales in the state, representing nearly a quarter of the auto fuels market via over one thousand gas stations. RFK Jr. cites an unnamed “high-level oil industry insider, (the CEO of Exxon’s competitor)” as his primary source for the impacts of decertifying ExxonMobil in New York, which he claims “would have no grave negative impacts on New York State.”
Someone should tell Brazil.
The secret “oil industry insider” reportedly assured RFK Jr. that other companies could quickly fill the supply gaps created by the sudden and fortuitous exile of their biggest competitor. But in reality, taking this amount of fuel supply off the market overnight would not only impact the state, but it would rile energy markets, resulting in extreme spikes in the price of gasoline and a fuel shortage comparable to that of the 1970s when New York was forced to consider fuel rationing. If the New York attorney general did revoke ExxonMobil’s business charter, it would certainly create – just like The New York Times reported back in 1970 – “a man-made crisis,” all in the name of RFK Jr.’s misguided crusade.
In addition to co-founding and co-directing the Pace Environmental Litigation Clinic, Kennedy is the founder, president and senior attorney for the Waterkeeper Alliance, a non-profit organization that’s mission is “holding polluters accountable” and considers itself “a law enforcement agency.” His other titles include former senior attorney for the Natural Resources Defense Council and master falconer. Additionally, Kennedy has called all environmental injury “an assault on democracy,” thinks children are asthmatic because “somebody gave money to a politician,” and yet believes humans are “hardwired to destroy the planet.”
But Kennedy is likely best known for his efforts towards “spreading disinformation” about the safety of vaccines, an ironic reputation considering his accusations against ExxonMobil. Kennedy has been repeatedly accused of playing fast and loose with the facts and promoting “anti-vaccine propaganda completely unconnected to reality.” If RFK Jr.’s campaign to reduce vaccination were to succeed, MIT Professor Seth Mnookin writes, “it will result in the waste of untold amounts of money and, in all likelihood, the preventable deaths of infants too young to be vaccinated.”
RFK Jr. is well known for advocating fringe theories that are unsupported by facts and detached from reality – and his memo to Eric Schneiderman is no different. New York State Republican Party chairman Ed Cox called Kennedy’s anti-ExxonMobil campaign “utterly ridiculous,” adding, “Bobby Kennedy represents a mindset that destroys jobs and the economy in the United States.” But Kennedy doubled down on his plans, tweeting out the article with a proclamation: “I intend to send this ‘secret memo’ to every AG in America.” Let’s hope Schneiderman’s former colleagues display better judgement than him.
I intend to send this “secret memo” to every AG in America. It is not a right but a privilege for corporations to do business in your state. #Exxon deserves the so called “corporate death penalty” for putting billions of humans and the planet at risk.https://t.co/VXmdM22QCX
— Robert F. Kennedy Jr (@RobertKennedyJr) June 18, 2018