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Rep. Ro Khanna (D-Calif.) at rally about ending fossil fuel subsidies

Rep. Ro Khanna (D-Calif.) speaks at a rally near the U.S. Capitol about ending fossil fuel subsidies on June 29, 2021. (Photo: Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images)

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

"The question remains—will these executives own up to the harm they've been trying to hide at this hearing or continue to evade the truth?"

Andrea Germanos

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.

Kyle Herrig, president of government watchdog Accountable.US, said, "The American people have waited too long for answers about Big Oil's efforts to poison the public against President Biden's widely popular climate agenda."

"But the question remains," he added, "will these executives own up to the harm they've been trying to hide at this hearing, or continue to evade the truth?"


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