Exxon-funded Members of Congress play key role in climate deception machine
Washington, DC – Reaffirming their commitment to climate deception, Exxon-funded Republican members of Congress on the House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology sent a second round of letters to 350.org, Greenpeace USA and other nonprofit organizations demanding full divulgence of communications related to each organization’s work advocating for climate action and holding Exxon accountable for its role in sowing public deception around climate change.
Just this weekend, the DNC platform committee unanimously agreed to call for a Department of Justice investigation of fossil fuel companies, including Exxon, accused of misleading shareholders and the public about the risk of climate change.
This latest request from the House Committee was not initially made public, though 350.org and Greenpeace USA responded by the June 24 deadline. The House Committee did make public similar requests sent to 17 state attorneys general who are working to hold the fossil fuel industry accountable for its role in deliberately misleading investors and consumers about climate change. All nonprofit groups also rejected the Committee’s first request made on May 18 by the June 1 deadline.
All 13 Republican members who signed the first letter have directly received money from Exxon. Chairman Lamar Smith (R-TX), who has a track record of baselessly attacking climate scientists, has particularly cosy financial ties with Exxon and its industry peers. Smith has accepted $22,270 in campaign contributions from Exxon since 1998. Smith has also accepted donations from other key players of the climate deception machine such as Koch Industries, Royal Dutch Shell, and Peabody Energy.
Currently, four state attorneys general have launched ongoing investigations to determine if Exxon committed fraud, the Department of Justice has referred the case to the criminal branch of the FBI, and pressure continues to mount across the country for elected officials and candidates to support investigations into all that Exxon knew.
Exxon has vigorously challenged investigations of the state attorneys general of both Massachusetts and the U.S. Virgin Islands. Texas U.S. District Judge Ed Kinkeade rejected Exxon’s attempt to block the U.S. Virgin Islands investigation.
Last week, a forum convened by members of the Congressional Progressive Caucus and the Sustainable Energy and Environment Coalition titled “Oil is the New Tobacco” shed light on the troubling contradictions between Exxon’s internal approach to the seriousness of climate change and the company’s public campaign to cast doubt and deception on climate science.
Even as world governments face increasing pressure to stand up to the fossil fuel industry and uphold commitments made in the Paris climate agreement, ExxonMobil CEO Rex Tillerson and Exxon’s board recommended rejection of every single climate resolution brought to the the company’s annual shareholder meeting last month.
This all comes as Exxon and the entire fossil fuel industry face their imminent financial downfall. As major coal companies declare bankruptcy and oil companies experience plummeting profits, Exxon’s credit rating was downgraded for the first time since the Great Depression.
May Boeve, 350 Action Executive Director said:
“This latest bid by Exxon and their bought-and-paid-for allies in Congress proves that the House Committee on Science is more committed to sowing misinformation and deception about climate change than to actually acting on science. At least half a century ago, Exxon’s executives were warned about the very devastation communities around the world are experiencing today, yet chose to pour resources into sowing doubt and funding an extensive climate denial machine. We know that this is an industry-wide problem, and we will keep spreading the word about all Exxon knew, and keep working to see these these climate miscreants held accountable for their role in wrecking our planet and robbing us of a generation’s worth of climate action.”
Annie Leonard, Greenpeace USA Executive Director said:
“These multibillion dollar global organizations have potentially bilked the American people out of financial stability, national security, and the health and safety of our future generations by creating a false debate designed to protect their profits. These attorneys general are doing their jobs to investigate whether or not this massive fraud has occurred, and we stand with them. If Exxon, its allies, enablers, and congressional yes-men are afraid of an open inquiry into allegations of fraud, then the American people should be even more suspicious of what they’ve been up to in the decades they’ve been peddling climate denial. It was fraud when Big Tobacco did it; it’s time to find out if this Exxon scheme was fraud, too.”
Lindsay Meiman, 350 Action, firstname.lastname@example.org, (347) 460-9082
Rodrigo Estrada, email@example.com, (202) 478-6632
NOTES TO THE EDITOR:
The letter issued to 350.org on June 17th can be found here. Stable URL: http://350.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/06/June-17-House-Committee-Letter-to-350.org_.pdf
The letter issued to Greenpeace USA on June 17th can be found here. Stable URL: http://www.greenpeace.org/usa/wp-content/uploads/2016/06/06.17.2016-SST-Letter-to-Abbe-Lowell.pdf
The official response from June 24th can be found here. Stable URL: http://www.greenpeace.org/usa/wp-content/uploads/2016/06/Greenpeace-350.org-06-24-16.pdf
InsideClimate News report, Exxon: The Road Not Taken