Oil giants urged to cut funding to climate change denier groups

US lawmakers urged major oil companies to resign from an oil industry trade group and cut funding to any group that casts doubt on climate science.

By Bloomberg

US lawmakers urged executives from Exxon Mobil Corp., Chevron Corp., Royal Dutch Shell Plc and BP Plc to leave the oil industry’s leading trade group and cut funding to any group that casts doubt on climate science.

During a congressional hearing on Thursday, U.S. Representative Ro Khanna pressured Gretchen Watkins, the president of Shell’s U.S. unit, and other executives to resign from the American Petroleum Institute, which he said was actively opposed to government subsidies for electric vehicles.

They refused to make such a commitment. The lawsuit came amid a House Oversight and Reform Committee hearing during which executives were questioned about what they knew about the causes of global warming and when, and whether they worked to undermine protection efforts. climatic.

It is the first time since the BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico more than a decade ago that top industry executives have appeared together before lawmakers in the nation’s capital. Activists hope they can craft statements that will help change public opinion and aid lawsuits against fossil fuels, as happened with Big Tobacco in the 1990s.

“They’re obviously lying like the tobacco executives did,” said US Rep. Carolyn Maloney, the New York Democrat who chairs the committee, after a particularly tense exchange with Exxon CEO Darren Woods.

Climate bill

The investigation comes as President Joe Biden struggles to keep key climate policies in his spending bill, which is crucial to implementing the infrastructure goals that were the cornerstone of his campaign. Democrats and moderate Republicans are blocking much of Biden’s climate efforts amid deep divisions within his own party before a key climate summit begins in Glasgow next week.

As such, Democrats are eager to use the hearing to increase public pressure on the fossil fuel industry in hopes that stronger climate provisions will pass.

Maloney presented Exxon’s Woods with a series of documents and statements by Exxon’s own scientists that fossil fuels were the leading cause of man-made climate change since 1978 and contrasted them with the company’s public statements.

In particular, he highlighted skeptical comments by former Exxon CEO Lee Raymond about the state of climate science in the 1990s.

“No, I don’t agree that there is an inconsistency,” Woods said. Exxon’s scientific understanding was “completely consistent” with the broader scientific community and has evolved over time, he said. “I don’t think it’s fair to judge something 25 years ago with what we’ve learned since then.”

Greenpeace video

But that didn’t satisfy Maloney, who played a clip of former Exxon lobbyist Keith McCoy caught on camera by Greenpeace saying the company was working with “shadow groups” to combat climate science.

Shell’s Watkins told lawmakers that as early as 1991 the corporation was raising concerns about climate change and created an educational film on the subject for schools and universities.

“Shell has long advocated for government policies that will reduce demand for fossil fuels, stimulate innovation in clean energy technologies, reduce greenhouse gas emissions and ensure access to reliable and affordable energy,” Watkins said in a written testimony.

Last month, lawmakers requested documents and internal communications related to climate misinformation, but “to date, all fossil fuel entities have not adequately complied with the committee’s request,” the committee said on its website.

–With assistance from Jennifer A. Dlouhy.


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