Big Oil hearing to kick off U.S. probe into climate disinformation

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By Timothy Gardner and Valerie Volcovici

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – A Congressional proceeding this week into whether lipid companies misled the nationalist astir clime alteration marks the commencement of a wide probe that whitethorn widen to different industries from advertizing to societal media, according to a lawmaker starring the effort.

The sweeping quality of the Democrat-led probe reflects rising urgency wrong the enactment to code planetary warming arsenic Republicans and mean Democrats artifact clime provisions astatine the bosom of President Joe Biden’s spending bill, and arsenic planetary leaders hole to conscionable connected clime alteration successful Glasgow, Scotland adjacent month.

“This volition beryllium a year-long probe and the hearings people the opening of it,” Representative Ro Khanna, a progressive Democrat connected the House committee told Reuters successful an interview. “The thought is for them to admit to the American radical what they person done.”

Top executives from Exxon Mobil Corp, BP America, Chevron Corp and Shell Oil, on with lobby groups the American Petroleum Institute and the Chamber of Commerce, volition attest connected Oct. 28 astatine the House oversight committee hearing.

Democratic lawmakers person said they privation to exemplary the lawsuit aft the House’s Big Tobacco probe of the 1990s which took spot implicit galore months and yet revealed that companies buried grounds that cigarettes are addictive and harmful.

Khanna said Thursday’s proceeding would absorption connected the vigor industry’s denial for decades that their products played a starring relation successful fueling clime change, and connected whether the companies’ existent claims of supporting clime enactment were real.

He said the committee would besides yet crook to the lipid industry’s usage of advertizing and societal media platforms and question grounds from executives successful those companies too.

Executives from societal media firms similar Facebook Inc and Twitter Inc person already travel nether aggravated scrutiny from Congress implicit their relation successful the pervasion of fake quality and their interaction connected the well-being of young societal media users.

The CEOs who person agreed to attest astatine the virtual proceeding are Exxon Mobil’s Darren Woods, BP America’s David Lawler, Chevron’s Michael Wirth and Shell Oil President Gretchen Watkins. American Petroleum Institute President Mike Sommers and Chamber of Commerce President Suzanne Clark volition besides testify.

All person denied deliberately misleading the nationalist astir clime change.

BIG OIL’S STRATEGY

A root progressive successful the lipid industry’s pre-hearing preparations said the companies hoped to usage the hearings to item their caller efforts to code clime alteration done concern successful renewables and probe and development.

The executives were besides expected to item the emergence successful gasoline and earthy state prices owed to the planetary vigor proviso crunch and reason that a accelerated displacement distant from fossil fuels would pb to adjacent higher vigor bills, the root said.

Committee Chairwoman Carolyn Maloney had asked the executives for documents dating backmost to the 1970s showing who the companies and groups funded connected clime campaigns and what interior scientists had advised them connected climate.

Khanna said the committee was unhappy with the fig of documents that had been submitted truthful far, and implied that it could pb to subpoenas. “We’re consenting to usage immoderate instrumentality astatine our disposal to get much documents,” helium said.

He said the documents received truthful acold included immoderate from a erstwhile Exxon lobbyist, Keith McCoy, who was secretly recorded https://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-lobbying-exxon-climate-idCAKCN2E62TJ by biology radical Greenpeace, saying the company’s enactment of a c taxation was a ruse to look progressive connected clime alteration since the institution believed the thought would ne'er go law.

Exxon has said McCoy’s statements were an inaccurate depiction of the company’s position. McCoy did not instantly respond to a petition for comment.

Thursday’s proceeding volition besides apt item a strategical rift betwixt Europe and U.S-based vigor companies connected clime change. European companies similar BP and Shell are moving faster into cleanable vigor businesses than U.S. based Exxon and Chevron.

“I deliberation it’s an accidental for a institution similar BP to amusement that we are successful enactment toward a nett zero extremity by 2050,” said J.P, Fielder, a BP America spokesperson. Shell’s Watkins said gathering the request for reliable vigor portion addressing clime “is a immense undertaking and 1 of the defining challenges of our time.”

Exxon spokesperson Casey Norton said the institution had made “substantial investments successful next-generation technologies” and “advocates for liable climate-related policies.”

Chevron did not comment.

(Reporting by Timothy Gardner; Editing by Stephen Coates)

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