Top oil company executives will face questions before the US Congress over accusations that they are spreading disinformation about how fossil fuels damage the environment.
The hearing before the House oversight committee is scheduled on Friday to include testimonies from leaders at ExxonMobil, BP America, Chevron and Shell.
The hearing will include testimony from ExxonMobil CEO Darren Woods, BP America CEO David Lawler, Chevron CEO Michael Wirth and Shell President Gretchen Watkins.
In a letter to the companies, committee Chairwoman Rep. Carolyn Maloney, Democrat-New York, and Rep. Ro Khanna, Democrat-California, head of the environment subcommittee, accused them and allies of spending $1 billion between 2015 and 2018 to cast doubt on the climate dangers of fossil fuels to avert serious environmental
“We are deeply concerned that the fossil fuel industry has reaped massive profits for decades while contributing to climate change that is devastating American communities, costing taxpayers billions of dollars and ravaging the natural world,” they wrote.
The companies came under scrutiny after the release of an undercover interview by Greenpeace UK in June with Exxon Senior Director Keith McCoy, who said the company has been working to bring down President Joe Biden’s climate plan and holding weekly calls with conservative-leaning Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia.
“Carbon tax is not going to happen,” McCoy said. “But it gives us a talking point that we can say, well what is ExxonMobil for? Well, we’re for a carbon tax.”
Thursday’s hearing, which also will include testimony from officials of the lobby group American Petroleum Institute and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, coincides with ongoing debate to trim Biden’s $3.5 trillion Build Back Better Act, which contains significant funding for climate change measures.
Manchin, a key vote in whether the bill will pass, has said that he wouldn’t support a bill that penalizes the coal and natural gas industry.
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change released a report in August that said a Paris Agreement goal to limit global warming to less than 2 degrees Celsius, compared to preindustrial levels, will be exceeded before the end of the century unless there’s rapid and deep reductions in emissions.The big oil companies first became aware of fossil fuels’ contribution to global warming in the 1970s, and some companies like Exxon were leading climate research. By the 1990s, they curtailed the research and started denying environmental consequences brought by their products, according to a report by the Union of Concerned Scientists cited by the oversight committee.