Three congressmen have called on the Department of Justice to investigate Shell over allegations the company hid information about fossil fuels' role in climate change amid mounting pressure for the government to hold Big Oil accountable for global warming.
The letter, spearheaded by California Representative Ted Lieu, follows reports in InsideClimate News and the Los Angeles Times alleging Shell and other companies were aware of the possible climate impacts of fossil fuels and then misled the public about the risks. The reports build on previous investigations that said ExxonMobil knew about connection between fossil fuel use and climate change for decades. ExxonMobil has repeatedly denied the reports.
According to the reports, Shell adjusted some of its projects to deal with rising sea levels and extreme weather. The company also joined the industry-led Global Climate Coalition, which in 1995 issued a statement questioning the science of sea level rise and the melting of the polar ice caps.
Lieu, along with Vermont Representative Peter Welch and Pennsylvania Representative Matt Cartwright, said in the letter to Attorney General Loretta Lynch that, if the allegations are true, oil companies "could have set back" the fight against climate change.
"Shell engineers knew about climate change and Shell took internal actions based on its knowledge of climate change," according to the letter.
"Yet Shell funded and publicly engaged in a campaign to deceive the American people about the known risks of climate change."
Since the original reports implicating ExxonMobil surfaced last year, pressure has grown for investigations into the supermajor and other fossil fuel companies. Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders, both currently campaigning for president, have said they support a federal investigation, while other liberal lawmakers have asked several companies including ExxonMobil and Shell for information pertaining to climate change.
ExxonMobil is currently under investigation in New York.
A request to Shell for comment was not immediately returned.