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#ExxonKnew sign in NYC in 2019

Climate activists protest on the first day of the ExxonMobil trial outside the New York State Supreme Court building on October 22, 2019 in New York City. (Photo: Angela Weiss/AFP via Getty Images)

Will They Lie or Finally Come Clean?: Watch Fossil Fuel CEOs Testify at Historic Hearing

"Will these executives own up to their misinformation, or keep trying to hide behind lies and spin?"

Andrea Germanos

U.S. House Democrats on Thursday are set to grill executives of top fossil fuel companies at what is being billed as a "historic" hearing on Big Oil's intentional and coordinated contribution to decades of climate misinformation.

"Big Oil will finally have to answer to the American public," Rep. Ro Khanna (D-Calif.), chair of the House Environment Subcommittee, said in a video message shared online Wednesday.

"I'm confident this historic hearing will change the opinion of Big Oil in America so that people understand what's going on," said Khanna, "and it will demand an accountability so that Big Oil will have to start becoming part of the climate solution instead of simply talking about being part of the climate solution."

The U.S. House of Representatives hearing—entitled "Fueling the Climate Crisis: Exposing Big Oil's Disinformation Campaign to Prevent Climate Action"—is set to begin at 10:30am, and, according to climate activist and Fossil Free Media director Jamie Henn, it's "going to be a wild ride."

Watch the hearing live below:

Khanna, along with House Oversight Committee Chair Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-N.Y.), sent letters to the executives in September seeking further information on their "long-running, industry-wide campaign to spread disinformation about the role of fossil fuels in causing global warming," threatening subpoenas should they not comply with the request to appear at the hearing.

Set to testify are ExxonMobil CEO Darren Woods, BP America CEO David Lawler, Chevron CEO Michael K. Wirth, Shell Oil president Gretchen Watkins, American Petroleum Institute president Mike Sommers, and U.S. Chamber of Commerce president and CEO Suzanne Clark.

In a statement ahead of the hearing, Kyle Herrig, president of government watchdog group Accountable.US, urged the executives to be truthful before lawmakers.

"For too long, oil companies have skirted responsibility for their harmful campaign of disinformation aimed at swaying Americans against commonsense policies to protect public lands and fight the climate crisis," said Herrig.

"Will these executives own up to their misinformation, or keep trying to hide behind lies and spin?"

"It shouldn't have taken several dodged hearings and a subpoena threat for these executives to come before Congress," he added. "With the American people watching, will these executives own up to their misinformation, or keep trying to hide behind lies and spin?"

Writing for Covering Climate Now, Mark Hertsgaard offered a similar question about the remarks the industry executives will make, and noted that "the case against them, drawn from their own files, is detailed, plentifully, and damning."

"Will these executives finally admit their companies' lies and take responsibility for the havoc they’re caused?" asked Hertsgaard. "Or will they keep lying, if only by proclaiming that they are now climate champions working to solve the crisis engulfing humanity?"

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