US congressional committee asks oil CEOs about climate misinformation

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A U.S. congressional committee has started questioning top oil industry CEOs about their role in decades of climate change misinformation.

On Thursday, the House Monitoring and Reform Committee began its session. The committee aims to determine whether the supergiant oil companies have withheld information about global warming and whether they have actively attempted to spread disinformation about it.

Presidential Representative Carolyn Maloney said: “For the first time, top fossil fuel leaders are together testifying before Congress, under oath, on the role of industry in climate change – and their efforts to achieve it. hide.

“We have to get to the bottom of the oil industry’s disinformation campaign with these subpoenas.”

ExxonMobil CEO Darren Woods, Shell Oil CEO Gretchen Watkins, BP America CEO David Lawler and Chevron CEO Mike Wirth all appeared virtually. Mike Sommers, President of the American Petroleum Institute (API), and Suzanne Clark, President and CEO of the United States Chamber of Commerce, also addressed the committee.

Climatologists first suggested a link between rising global temperatures and pollution from fossil fuel use in the late 1970s. Maloney accused ExxonMobil of lying about climate change since then, saying to Wood that his company’s scientists had warned executives of the dangers of the day.

Woods said that “Exxon does not and has never disseminated disinformation about climate change,” and that his company’s statements were consistent with the science of the time. This exchange followed Woods’ misrepresentation of the IPCC report on climate change, in which he said the report concluded that carbon emissions “”can cause climate change ”. On page 6 of the 3,949-page report, the IPCC states that “it is unequivocal that human influence has warmed the atmosphere, the ocean and the land.”

Accusations of disinformation by the oil supergiants

Ahead of the hearing, Maloney released an analysis of data regarding lobbying by fossil fuel companies. A statement from the committee said that this “shows that while the industry is publicly committed to supporting climate reforms, it is devoting only a small fraction of its lobbying resources to supporting climate action behind closed doors.”

In this context, representatives stressed that despite Wirth’s repeated references to the Paris Agreement, his company had never lobbied for it. In contrast, out of 986 reported cases of lobbying, Chevron had sought to influence corporate tax law 144 times.

Sometimes contributors such as Wirth of Chevron and Sommers of API have accepted that pollution can contribute to global warming. However, all stopped before they recognized it as a direct cause.

Maloney later said that executives “obviously lie like tobacco executives,” referring to a 1994 hearing where CEOs falsely stated that nicotine was not addictive.

Supergiant Oil Companies “Fail to Produce” Climate Change Cover-Up Documents

The committee also asked companies to produce documents detailing their role in disinformation campaigns. After the companies “failed to produce” the documents, Maloney announced the committee’s intention to subpoena them for the relevant documents.

Maloney asked all senators if they “would no longer spend money directly or indirectly to oppose efforts to reduce emissions and fight climate change.” The CEOs of the four companies have refused to make any commitments in this regard.

Republican members of the committee denounced his actions as an attempt to distract the public. Representative Virginia Foxx said the hearing was “part of a disinformation campaign led by Democrats,” while offering no evidence.

The committee is also of particular interest to pro-fossil fuel senators among ruling Democrats. President Joe Biden has made accelerating America’s energy transition a priority, but lawmakers in his party have repeatedly hindered progress in legislation. In particular, West Virginia Senator Joe Manchin has sparked controversy with his frequent objections to energy and climate issues.

Earlier this year, a sting from the journalistic unit of Greenpeace UK Unearthed exposed Manchin’s frequent communications with major oil lobbyists. A senior ExxonMobil lobbyist called Manchin a “kingmaker” in the US Senate, also naming 10 other senators considered “crucial” to lobbying efforts. Manchin also owns millions of dollars in shares of fossil fuel companies and has regularly received large donations from fossil fuel companies.

Committee members have already discussed the possibility of summoning party members to testify about their experience before the committee.


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