Sanders Wants the DOJ to Prosecute Companies for… Climate Change?

( – Left-wing senators have launched a new attack on the US energy industry. A group of radical lawmakers, led by antique socialist Bernie Sanders (I-VT), are demanding legal action against fossil fuel companies. The senators claim the industry has deliberately misled the American people about the risks of climate change, and now they want oil companies punished.

Sanders Demands Prosecutions

On July 31, Sanders, who runs for election as an independent but caucuses with the Democrats and claims to be a member of the party when it suits him, wrote to Attorney General Merrick Garland calling for the prosecution of the fossil fuel industry. Sanders claimed oil companies have known the dangers of climate change for years but have carried out a “longstanding and carefully coordinated campaign” to hide the truth from the American people. He also alleged that the industry has worked to “discredit” science that shows climate change.

According to Sanders, the industry has known about fossil fuels’ role “in increasing global temperatures for more than 50 years.” Fifty years ago, climate scientists — including many of the ones who’re warning about global warming right now — were warning about global cooling.

Sanders says the cost of dealing with global warming “must not fall on American taxpayers” and demands that “the polluters must pay.” Of course, if oil companies are heavily fined, they would have to raise the money by hiking prices, so taxpayers would end up paying anyway, but like most Socialists, Sanders doesn’t seem to understand that.

As well as Sanders, the letter to Garland was also signed by senators Ed Markey (D-MA), Jeff Merkley (D-OR) and Elizabeth Warren (D-MA). All three are on the left side of the Democratic Party.

Tobacco Is the Model

Sanders seems to be aiming for a deal along the lines of the 1998 Tobacco Master Settlement Agreement (MSA). The MSA is an agreement between the four main US tobacco companies and the attorneys general of 46 states; the states agreed to stop suing the companies, and in return, the companies agreed to rein in their marketing and give the states, in perpetuity, annual payments based on cigarette sales.

The goal of the MSA was allegedly to make the tobacco companies pay for the cost of treating smoking-related diseases. Predictably, many states just saw it as extra cash. The worst offenders, including California, decided to get more money upfront and sold tobacco bonds, relying on future MSA income to repay investors.

However, because the MSA payments are based on cigarette sales, that left the states vulnerable to a decline in smoking. When vaping became popular around 2012, cigarette sales fell sharply — and left states struggling to repay the bonds. In a classic example of unintended consequences, lawmakers tried to ban e-cigarettes to protect the tobacco sales their finances relied on. Sanders doesn’t seem to have learned that lesson.

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