Democrats call on oil giants to testify on climate campaign – NBC Chicago
Congressional Democrats are calling on top executives from ExxonMobil and other oil giants to testify at a House hearing as lawmakers investigate what they say is a long-running, nationwide campaign industry to spread misinformation about the role of fossil fuels in global warming.
The House Oversight Committee on Thursday asked executives of ExxonMobil, BP, Chevron and Shell to testify at a hearing next month, as well as executives from the American Petroleum Institute, the main group of lobbying from the oil industry, and the American Chamber of Commerce.
“We are deeply concerned that the fossil fuel industry has raked in huge profits for decades while contributing to climate change that is devastating American communities, costing taxpayers billions of dollars and ravaging the natural world,” he said. said Carolyn Maloney, chair of oversight, and Representative Ro Khanna, D-Calif., wrote in a letter to executives in the oil industry.
“We are also concerned that to protect these profits, the industry has reportedly conducted a coordinated effort to disseminate disinformation in order to mislead the public and prevent crucial action to combat climate change,” said they wrote. Khanna, chairman of Oversight’s environment subcommittee, has been lobbying the oil industry for months for documents and other information about its role in stopping climate action.
Khanna focused on Exxon after a senior lobbyist for the company was caught in a secret video boasting that Exxon had fought climate science through “ghost groups” and had targeted influential senators in the industry. goal to weaken President Joe Biden’s climate agenda, including a bipartisan infrastructure bill and a massive $ 3.5 trillion spending bill currently pending in Congress.
Washington-based lobbyist Keith McCoy also dismissed Exxon’s public expressions of support for a carbon tax proposal on fossil fuel emissions as a “talking point.”
McCoy’s comments were made public in June by environmental group Greenpeace UK, which secretly recorded McCoy and another lobbyist in Zoom interviews.
Darren Woods, CEO of Exxon, condemned McCoy’s statements and said the company was delivering on its commitment to work to find solutions to climate change.
Woods is among the executives the House panel hopes to interview in an Oct. 28 hearing, along with BP America CEO David Lawler, Chevron CEO Michael Wirth and Shell president Gretchen Watkins.
The committee also said it would formally ask McCoy about his comments, although the timing for that interview has not been set.
Maloney and Khanna said in a statement that ExxonMobil and other oil companies “have worked to prevent serious action on global warming by creating doubts about the documented dangers of fossil fuels and by distorting the scale of their efforts to develop alternative energy technologies. the tactics of the tobacco industry to resist regulation “while selling products that kill hundreds of thousands of Americans.”
The oil industry’s “obfuscation and distraction strategies span decades and continue to this day,” Khanna and Maloney said. The five largest publicly traded oil and gas companies reportedly spent at least $ 1 billion from 2015 to 2018 “to promote climate disinformation through ‘branding and lobbying’,” lawmakers wrote.
The committee gave oil executives until September 23 to respond and said further measures, including issuing subpoenas, are possible.
An Exxon spokesperson said the company had received the letter and would respond to the committee. He declined to comment further.
API spokesperson Bethany Aronhalt said the group “welcomes the opportunity to testify again before the House Oversight Committee and advance our priorities on carbon pricing, methane regulation and reliable production of American energy “. API President Mike Sommers was among those invited to testify next month.
Exxon and other oil companies often brag about their efforts to generate clean energy in social media posts accompanied by stylish videos or images of wind turbines.
“Together, we are driving progress by providing more and cleaner energy solutions for the world,” says Shell’s Facebook profile, which is followed by more than 9 million people.
Associated Press writer Amanda Seitz in Columbus, Ohio contributed to this story.