Environmental Leaders Call on Clinton Foundation to Return ExxonMobil Money

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Ruffalo, Sarandon, Asner, and DeChristopher Sign Letter Along With 15 Environmental, Health, and Faith Organizations

Mike Tidwell (right), Wenonah Hauter (center), and Dr. Catherine Thomasson (left) speak at the National Press Club

An organization whose purpose includes addressing climate change should not be giving an implicit seal of approval and social license to a company like ExxonMobil by accepting the company’s money.

On the heels of mounting investigations into whether ExxonMobil deceived the public and investors over climate change, activists gathered today at the National Press Club to release a letter—signed by celebrities and public interest groups—urging the Clinton Foundation to return more than one million dollars it has received from the oil giant. Signers include fifteen widely respected nonprofit groups as well as actors Susan Sarandon and Mark Ruffalo and climate activists Tim DeChristopher and Lennox Yearwood.

“ExxonMobil is a company that has been fighting efforts to address the climate crisis for over 25 years,” states the letter, which is addressed to the Bill, Hillary and Chelsea Clinton Foundation. “This includes spending $30 million to support groups whose basic purpose is to encourage doubt and denial about the facts of climate change. Given that [the Clinton Foundation] does work to fight climate change, we are writing to urge you to return the more than $1 million that your foundation has received from ExxonMobil in recent years.”

Recent media reports show that top Exxon executives were told by their own scientists as far back as the 1970s that global warming was a fact and that fossil fuels were a prime driver. Now Attorneys General in California, New York, Massachusetts and the Virgin Islands have launched investigations into possible fraud and deception stemming from ExxonMobil’s climate denial efforts.

Wenonah Hauter, director of Food & Water Watch and the Food & Water Action Fund, signed the letter released today and had this to say at the press conference: “When future historians give their verdict on the twenty-first century, Exxon will be a top contender for committing the worst crimes against the earth—from the devastating Exxon Valdez spill in Prince William Sound, Alaska to funding a disinformation campaign focused on casting doubt on climate change.”

As part of today’s letter release, the CCAN Action Fund also launched a web site—http://www.clintonsdivest.org —to help other organizations and citizens learn more about the ExxonMobil controversy and the Clinton Foundation.

Another letter signer, Lydia Avila, Executive Director of the Energy Action Coalition, said, “Our coalition works with young people around the country who are deeply concerned about their futures in an increasingly hotter and more unstable world. If the Clinton Foundation gave leadership to the effort to stabilize our climate by cutting all ties with ExxonMobil, youth worldwide would take notice.”

Mike Tidwell, director of the Chesapeake Climate Action Network and the CCAN Action Fund, said, “Our request today is direct, simple, and imminently doable for a philanthropy that gives away hundreds of millions of dollars per year. Returning ExxonMobil’s money sends the right signal to American citizens and the world at a time when Antarctic ice is imploding, seas are rising, and extreme weather is battering the four corners of the world.”

Letter signer Dr. Catherine Thomasson, director of Physicians for Social Responsibility, added, “The Clinton Foundation helps millions of poor people all over the world who are struggling with poor health. That’s good. But ExxonMobil’s historic efforts to deny climate change have hurt many of these same people. One billion people already don’t have access to safe drinking water and global warming will more than double that in the next decades. The Clinton Foundation should give back Exxon’s money.”

View the full letter and signers below and online at: http://clintonsdivest.org/the-letter

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Clinton Foundation: Divest from Exxon

An Open Letter to the Bill, Hillary, and Chelsea Clinton Foundation

Dear Bill, Hillary, and Chelsea Clinton Foundation,

New evidence has emerged that ExxonMobil allegedly misled the public and its shareholders about the central role fossil fuels have played in driving the global climate crisis. Given that your foundation does work to fight climate change, we are writing to urge you to return the more than $1 million that your foundation has received from ExxonMobil in recent years.

ExxonMobil is a company that has been fighting efforts to address the climate crisis for over 25 years. This includes spending $30 million to support groups whose basic purpose is to encourage doubt and denial about the facts of climate change. These ExxonMobil-funded groups question whether climate change is happening at all or they question the role of human activity as the primary cause.

ExxonMobil is now under investigation by the offices of the Attorneys General of New York, California, Massachusetts, and the Virgin Islands for possible fraud and deception. News reports have shown that the company’s own scientists, doing research in the late 1970s and early 1980s, told top Exxon leadership about the dangers to human society from the continued reliance on fossil fuels.

This is not a company that your foundation should be associated with in terms of past, current, or future donations. The Clinton Foundation, among its philanthropic activities, has adopted the goal of addressing the issue of climate change. Your website accurately declares that the Foundation has "helped communities address the effects of climate change." Following Superstorm Sandy, for example, you recruited volunteers to work in support of Sandy victims.

An organization whose purpose includes addressing climate change should not be giving an implicit seal of approval and social license to a company like ExxonMobil by accepting the company’s money.

We call upon the Clinton Foundation to publicly disclose the dates and amounts of ExxonMobil donations it has received over the years, and to return that money to the company. Further, the Foundation should announce it will no longer accept donations from ExxonMobil in the future. Finally, we urge the Foundation to consider doing the same for donations it has received from other fossil fuel corporations. Such steps by a foundation as well-known and impactful as the Clinton Foundation would send a clear and much-needed signal to the world that this is the time, right now, when we must step up and take action in defense of our severely stressed planet, the Earth, our only home.

Sincerely,

Mike Tidwell, Director, CCAN Action Fund
Bill Snape, Senior Attorney, Center for Biological Diversity
RL Miller, President, Climate Hawks Vote
Lydia Avila, Executive Director, Energy Action Coalition
Drew Hudson, Executive Director, Environmental Action
Rev. Kristin Stoneking, Executive Director, Fellowship of Reconciliation
Wenonah Hauter, Executive Director, Food & Water Watch and Food & Water Action Fund
Patrick Carolan, Executive Director, Franciscan Action Network
Lise Van Susteren, convenor, Interfaith Moral Action on Climate
Ronnie Cummins, Director, Organic Consumers Association
Catherine Thomasson, Executive Director, Physicians for Social Responsibility
Ruth Breech, Senior Campaigner, Rainforest Action Network
Stop the Frack Attack Advisory Committee
Daphne Wysham, Director, Sustainable Energy and Economy Network
Rabbi Arthur Waskow, Director, The Shalom Center
Ed Asner
Tim DeChristopher
Mark Ruffalo
Susan Sarandon
Rev. Lennox Yearwood

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Kelly Trout
Chesapeake Climate Action Network & CCAN Action Fund
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