MP threatens Exxon with subpoena after secret video

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The chairman of a House subcommittee is demanding that executives of Exxon Mobil Corp., Shell, Chevron, and other major oil and gas companies testify before Congress about the industry’s efforts to run decades-long disinformation campaigns on climate change.

California Democrat Representative Ro Khanna said Friday he is prepared to use his subpoena power to force companies to appear before lawmakers if they don’t do so voluntarily.

Movement comes after a day secret video recording A top Exxon lobbyist has publicly said that the energy giant is fighting climate science through “shadow groups” and targeting influential senators in an attempt to undermine President Biden’s climate agenda. Many of these senators said this week that the lobbyist exaggerated their relationship or had no relationship with him at all.

“The video was horrible,” Mr. Khanna said in an interview on Friday. He described it as the latest evidence of the fossil fuel industry’s efforts to engage in “climate denialism and manipulate public opinion and exert excessive influence in shaping policy in Congress.”

Khanna said the House Oversight and Reform Subcommittee on the Environment, which he chairs, will release letters to senior executives of Exxon Mobil, Shell, Chevron and other oil and gas companies and trade groups next week requesting documents and testimonies. One of the main goals of the panel’s research is black money groups funded by fossil fuel companies to spread lies about climate science and policy solutions. The trial is expected in the fall.

New York Democrat Representative Carolyn B. Maloney, who chairs the Oversight Committee, said she was “very concerned”. She said she aims to “hold Exxon and other companies accountable” and “with new video evidence of how Exxon is knowingly trying to block actions to address climate change. Only Ms. Maloney, as full committee chair, is empowered to issue a subpoena.”

Mr Khanna said so far, oil and gas executives have resisted requests to appear before Congress, unlike representatives from other industries. “Honestly, I find it mind-boggling. Tech CEOs came from my area. Wall Street executives have come to Congress multiple times. Pharmaceutical executives,” he said. “We fully plan to issue subpoenas if they don’t come voluntarily.”

Officials at Exxon Mobil and other major oil companies did not immediately respond to requests for comment on Friday. Exxon lobbyist Keith McCoy in the video did not respond to several requests for comment.

After the video footage was made public on Thursday, Exxon CEO Darren Woods issued a statement saying that Mr McCoy’s remarks “in no way represent the company’s position on various issues, including climate policy, and our firm commitment to carbon pricing.” important for addressing climate change.”

The video was shot at insertion operation It’s by environmental group Greenpeace UK, who held a bogus recruitment interview with Exxon’s senior director of federal affairs, Mr McCoy. In the video, Mr. McCoy describes how the company targeted a number of influential senators in an effort to downsize the climate provisions in President Biden’s comprehensive infrastructure bill by attacking the tax increases payable for it. A two-sided package accepted by Mr. Biden now leaves out most of the ideas The president had originally proposed to reduce the burning of fossil fuels, which is the main driver of climate change.

Mr McCoy also said in the recording that Exxon’s support for the carbon dioxide tax was a “great talking point” for the oil company, but he believed the tax would never happen. A carbon tax is a charge on the carbon content of fossil fuels meant to deter emissions by making the more polluting goods more expensive. Carbon dioxide emissions from the burning of fossil fuels trap the sun’s heat and are a major contributor to climate change.

Also on the record, he said the company has aggressively fought climate science through “shadow groups” in the past.

When asked who was vital to Exxon’s efforts, Mr. McCoy named Senator Joe Manchin III of West Virginia and said he contacted the company’s office weekly because he “was not afraid to raise his claim early and change the debate entirely.” Mr McCoy also said Exxon lobbyists are “looking for moderates” among Democrats and have targeted senators such as Kyrsten Cinema and Arizona’s Mark Kelly, Montana’s Jon Tester, New Hampshire’s Maggie Hassan and Delaware’s Chris Coons.

Mr Manchin’s spokesman said Mr McCoy “greatly exaggerated his relationship and influence” with the senator’s staff and that Mr Manchin typically met a wide range of people.

Aides to other Democratic lawmakers said the senators never met with Mr McCoy or any Exxon officials during the infrastructure negotiations. Senators Coons and Hassan also said in statements that they support President Biden’s efforts to enact the climate law.

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