Thursday, 10 Mar 2016 04:01 PM
“This matter has been discussed,” Lynch told the Senate Judiciary Committee on Wednesday. “We have received information about it and have referred it to the FBI to consider whether or not it meets the criteria for which we could take action on.”
Lynch’s comments came under questioning by Democratic Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse of Rhode Island, who likened the possibility of such civil action to those brought against the tobacco industry during the Clinton administration.
“The similarities between the mischief of the tobacco industry pretending that the science of tobacco’s dangers was unsettled and the fossil-fuel industry pretending that the science of carbon emissions’ dangers is unsettled has been remarked on widely, particularly by those who study the climate denial apparatus that the fossil fuel industry has erected,” Whitehouse said.
“Under President Clinton, the Department of Justice brought and won a civil RICO action against the tobacco industry for its fraud,” he continued. “Under President [Barack] Obama, the Department of Justice has done nothing so far about the climate-denial scheme.
“A request for action by the Department of Justice has been referred by you to the FBI,” the senator said. “My question to you is, other than civil forfeitures and matters attendant to a criminal case, are there other circumstances in which a civil matter under the authority of the Department of Justice has been referred to the FBI?”
Noting that civil litigation has been “discussed,” Lynch added that “I’m not aware of a civil referral at this time.”
The attorney general told the committee that she would investigate whether such cases were being prepared by the FBI or the Justice Department.
Last month, the U.S. Supreme Court halted President Obama’s climate-change agenda by stopping his regulations on new carbon emissions from taking effect until lawsuits by 27 states were resolved. The 5-4 decision came on Feb. 9.
The states likened the new EPA regulations to “an unprecedented power grab” by the Obama White House, according to news reports.
The new rules seek to cut carbon emissions from electrical plants by 32 percent by 2030.