In its crusade to draw parallels between Big Tobacco and Big Oil, the #ExxonKnew campaign is making its most desperate pitch to date this week, following the publication of a devastating op-ed in the Washington Post authored by Dennis Vacco, a former New York attorney general who actually litigated and settled the Big Tobacco cases and pointed out that “ExxonMobil is nothing like them.”
The latest desperate move comes from a group called the Center for International Environmental Law (CIEL), which – according to a news release obtained by Energy In Depth – is about to release documents that purport to show how the “denial” playbook “originated not with tobacco—as long assumed—but with the oil industry itself.”
Now, if you’re feeling as though you’ve heard this tale before, it’s because you have – and it was pretty weak the first ten times. But before we get into the documents themselves, reporters and the public should know who CIEL actually is: yet another Rockefeller-funded key player in the #ExxonKnew campaign.
Meet the new boss, same as the old boss
CIEL’s President and CEO Carroll Muffett sits the board of the Climate Accountability Institute, which co-hosted the now infamous La Jolla conference in 2012 where activists brainstormed how they could use racketeering laws to prosecute ExxonMobil. He was also one of the participants in that closed-door meeting at the Rockefeller Family Fund offices where activists strategized on how they could establish “in the public’s mind that Exxon is a corrupt institution.” Prior to joining CIEL, Muffett worked for a number of activist organizations including Greenpeace and the International Conservation and Defenders of Wildlife. He recently joined activists such as Naomi Oreskes, who wrote a book that attempts to tie ExxonMobil to Big Tobacco, at a recent forum on Capitol Hill held by members of Congress sympathetic to their campaign. Matt Pawa, the activist who made himself famous for briefing the attorneys general ahead of their March 29th press conference with Al Gore, is on the CIEL board of trustees.