Andrea Germanos Environment Politics

‘Historic Showdown’ Coming as Fossil Fuel CEOs Agree to Testify on Climate Deception

The U.S. Capitol building in Washington, D.C.
The U.S. Capitol building in Washington, D.C. ( Kimberly Vardeman / Flickr )

By Andrea Germanos / Common Dreams

Proponents of holding the fossil fuel industry to account for its role in climate deception welcomed confirmation Wednesday that top oil and gas CEOs will testify before House lawmakers later this month.

News that the executives of BP, Chevron, ExxonMobil, and Shell Oil—as well as the American Petroleum Institute and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce—would testify was reported by the Washington Post.

“The stage is now set for a historic showdown that will help expose Big Oil’s decades-long efforts to lie to the American people about climate change.”

Last month, House Oversight Committee chair Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-N.Y.) and Environment Subcommittee chair Ro Khanna (D-Calif.). sent letters to the industry players requesting documents related to their roles in the “long-running, industry-wide campaign to spread disinformation about the role of fossil fuels in causing global warming” and asking them to appear before an Oct. 28 hearing, threatening subpoenas should they not comply.

“In the history of Congress, the fossil fuel executives have never come before the committee … to explain climate disinformation and address the climate crisis. That will change,” Khanna told the Post.

Following the September letters, Khanna said the hearing would be “a historic opportunity to do something about the damage the fossil fuel industry has done to our planet and our health” and announced his intention “to make the most of it.”

Among those welcoming the development Wednesday was Richard Wiles, executive director of the Center for Climate Integrity—a group that’s cataloged evidence of climate “deception” committed by the “Slippery Six,” a reference to the recipients of Khanna and Maloney’s letters.

“Thanks to the determination of chairs Maloney and Khanna,” he said in a statement, “the stage is now set for a historic showdown that will help expose Big Oil’s decades-long efforts to lie to the American people about climate change.”  

Wiles also compared the congressional hearing later this month to when executives of tobacco companies falsely told House lawmakers back in 1994 that nicotine wasn’t addictive.

“Just as Congress caught the ‘Seven Dwarfs’ of Big Tobacco lying under oath about the harm their products caused, this committee has an opportunity to make the ‘Slippery Six’ of Big Oil answer to the American public for their persistent lying about their products’ role in causing climate change,” he added.

According to Geoffrey Supran, a Harvard research fellow and expert in the fossil fuel industry’s climate denial campaign, the upcoming testimony is thanks to “the countless people… who have brought Big Oil’s moment of reckoning to fruition,” pointing to the “many journalists who found receipts proving #ExxonKnew, #ShellKnew” and others including scientists and activists paving the way for such accountability.

13 comments

  1. Will Carolyn Maloney or Ro Khanna ask the Chevron executive why Chevron is pursuing a shameful and illegal vendetta against Steven Donziger, the lawyer who obtained a $9.5 billion judgment against Chevron?

    1. Yes, and will Congress deplore how Exxon cut a dirty deal in NJ to escape an $8.9 BILLION “natural resource damage” assessment and lawsuit?

      In 2006, a NJ DEP Consultant developed and submitted to the Court an extremely ambitious and precedent setting $8.9 BILLION restoration plan, certainly one of the largest NRD restoration plans in the Country, by both acreage and cost. Exxon settled with the Christie Administration for pennies on the dollar.

      Details and links:
      http://www.wolfenotes.com/2015/03/why-were-we-blindsided-by-the-exxon-nrd-deal/

  2. Witch hunt. Everyone knows gas driven automobiles
    cause more damage to the environment than horse drawn carriages.

    The switch to green/clean energy will take decades as did the switch
    from coal to gas, and gas to lithium battery.

    You cannot simply replace gasoline and natural gas overnight
    with wind and solar energy because government wishes it to be
    by writing new laws, in my opinion.

    Larry Johnson

    Larry Johnson

  3. How do you go about holding the multi-national corporations who rule the planet accountable for killing off all life on that planet?

    If you read the published science it kinda looks like that’s where we’re headed. The “all life” part comes in when the 440 nuclear reactor sites melt down as this fossil fuel driven ecocidal civilization we’ve built comes unravelled. Turns out that creating an industry whose waste will kill all of us for a few thousand years and then building most of the sites near coastlines so pumping cooling water would be cheap, wasn’t one of our best ideas.

    Growing as fast as you can in every way with an emphasis on population expansion suspended upon a foundational fountain of oil however, makes the nuclear energy idea look like clear, undistorted by greed, thinking.
    Good luck all, be well.

  4. How many of the Seven Dwarfs went to prison? How many of the
    Slippery Six will go? Does truth alter the behavior of these people?

  5. Native wisdom looks seven generations in the future to guide their decision making regarding how to live. Oil executives lack any wisdom or morality when they look only at the bottom line. They literally are killing us and we are allowing it.

  6. Is it really “historic” that these scumbags are basically being invited to confirm (or deny yet again) something that by now is well-established fact? I strongly doubt — to say the least — that any significant change is at hand. A symbolic slap on the wrist, maybe. A minor inconvenience. No champagne lunch today!

    They might even get a kick out of equivocating to the peanut gallery. Psychopaths love to manipulate others.

  7. While they are at it why don’t they inquire as to the assets of Chevron to see whether it can pay the 9 plus billion judgment against it, and let Atty Donziger go free. The Judges involved are controlled by their greed in protecting Chevron with whom they had certain professional interests and should have recused themselves from hearing the Donziger matter. Instead these so-called Judges, violated their oaths and the Constitution and good sound judgment in attacking Donziger and punishing him for doing his job. America is this the best we can offer???

  8. What we are going to see is how effective all those campaign contributions that Big Oil has given to Congress over the decades truly are. The members of the panel will make some of these CEOs squirm a little bit but nothing will get done because too many in Congress are Flat Earth types who want the world to burn, mostly the dunce Trumpers but also too many of the Wall Street Democrats.

    They should also haul into these hearings members of Trump’s EPA and Interior Dept as well.

    Capitalism is a suicide cult.

    The lie of infinite consumption on a finite planet is depravity and insanity. Unfortunately there are too many depraved and insane people at the levers of power in government, business and the media.

  9. I think the committee needs to call Coal Baron Joe Manchin to join those oil and gas barons, and sweat him a bit on his refusal to pass environmental protection measures in the Biden bills.

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