For the first time in American history, Big Oil is going to have to answer to the American public on their climate disinformation. — Ro Khanna, Democratic representative from California
For the first time in American history, Big Oil is going to have to answer to the American public on their climate disinformation. — Ro Khanna, Democratic representative from California

This is an industry with a long, documented history of misrepresenting the facts of climate change and the facts about their own activities. At this point the burden of proof is on them to prove that they’ve changed. — Naomi Oreskes, a professor of the history of science at Harvard
This is an industry with a long, documented history of misrepresenting the facts of climate chang and the facts about their own activities. At this point the burden of proof is on them to prove that they’ve changed. — Naomi Oreskes, a professor of the history of science at Harvard

Oil Executives to Face Congress on Climate Disinformation
Executives of some of the world’s biggest oil and gas companies — Exxon Mobil, Chevron, BP and Shell — are set to appear before a congressional committee Thursday to address accusations that the industry spent millions of dollars to wage a decades-long disinformation campaign to cast doubt on the science of climate change and to derail action to reduce emissions from burning fossil fuels.

The hearings mark the first time oil executives will be pressed to answer questions, under oath, about whether their companies misled the public about the reality of climate change by obscuring the scientific consensus: that the burning of fossil fuels is raising Earth’s temperature and sea levels with devastating consequences worldwide, including intensifying storms, worsening drought and deadlier wildfires.

House Democrats compare the inquiry with the historic tobacco hearings of the 1990s, which brought into sharp relief how tobacco companies had lied about the health dangers of smoking, paving the way for tough nicotine regulations. Climate scientists are now as certain that the burning of fossil fuels causes global warming as public health experts are sure that smoking tobacco causes cancer.

The evidence showing that fossil fuel companies distorted and downplayed the realities of climate change is well documented by academic researchers.

“For the first time in American history, Big Oil is going to have to answer to the American public on their climate disinformation,” said Ro Khanna, the Democratic representative from California who has led the effort to bring executives before Congress.

... The oil company executives are being allowed to attend Thursday’s events remotely by video, diminishing the possibility of a similarly arresting visual moment. And much of the hearing’s effectiveness will depend on coordination between the members, who are each allotted limited amounts of time to examine the executives, a format that can hinder a coherent line of questioning.

... Oil companies have denied lying to the public about climate change, and have said the industry is now taking bold steps to rein in emissions. “Meeting the demand for reliable energy — while simultaneously addressing climate change — is a huge undertaking and one of the defining challenges of our time,” Gretchen Watkins, president of Shell Oil, will tell lawmakers, according to a preview of her remarks provided by the company.

... “This is an industry with a long, documented history of misrepresenting the facts of climate change and the facts about their own activities,” said Naomi Oreskes, a professor of the history of science at Harvard. “At this point the burden of proof is on them to prove that they’ve changed.”

The hearing, which is the start of a broader inquiry, is also expected to examine more recent efforts to block meaningful climate policy and legislation. The fossil fuel industry has opposed various climate policies, including a behind-the-scenes effort to roll back vehicle emissions standards adopted by the Obama administration.


Carolyn B. Maloney, the committee chairwoman, said she hoped the hearing would be “a turning point for increased regulation of the fossil fuel industry” and galvanize action on climate in Congress.

The catalyst for the House hearings was a sting operation this year by the activist group Greenpeace. The group captured on video an Exxon lobbyist who said that the company had fought climate science through “shadow groups” and targeted influential senators in an effort to weaken President Biden’s climate proposals.

... All major oil and gas companies have publicly supported the Paris accord, the agreement among nations to fight climate change. BP and Shell have also made “net zero” commitments — eliminating as much carbon pollution as they put into the atmosphere — for their operations. But all four companies continue to invest heavily in fossil fuel extraction; renewable energy projects make up a fraction of their capital investments.
Read the full article: https://www.nytimes.com/2021/10/27/climate/oil-congress-climate-disinformation.html