House Hearing Grills Big Oil CEOs on Climate Misinformation

Members of Congress grilled Big Oil CEOs about their companies’ efforts to deceive the public in a House Oversight Committee hearing late last week, and if you missed the action, here are a few highlights:

Lawmakers took the heads of four major oil companies and the industry trade association the American Petroleum Institute to task for decades of misinformation and misstatements on the threat of climate change.  They also asked the executives to stop blocking meaningful progress on addressing the climate crisis. 

Representative Peter Welch (D-Vermont) grilled ExxonMobil’s CEO on the company’s failure to disclose warnings from its own scientists on the dangers of climate change. 

Representative Jim Cooper (D-Tennessee) also highlighted the hypocrisy of the fossil fuel industry that takes billions in taxpayer giveaways each year, while extolling the virtues of ‘free market forces.’    In the clip below, Rep. Cooper asks, “Can the four key oil executives agree on how much they are being subsidized by the American taxpayer?”  

Unfortunately, Chevron CEO Michael Wirth, true to his company’s tradition of misstatements, denied that Chevron receives special tax freebies, saying,

“Our products are taxed not subsidized. And I can tell you that a number of the policies that get described as subsidies are very similar to those available to other industries and other companies.” 

This is false.  Oil and gas companies receive several special deductions and credits under the U.S. tax code that are not similar to those enjoyed by other businesses that allow companies like Chevron to more quickly recoup money they spend to locate where they will drill.  And several multinational oil companies, including Chevron, received a special tax exemption in 2017 that allows them to escape U.S. taxes on overseas drilling revenue when they bring it home.   

Lawmakers also grilled the CEOs and the American Petroleum Institute for blocking progress to encourage more electric vehicle charging stations and pushing for more leasing to drill on public land.   

As more hurricanes, wildfires, drought, and heat waves impact millions across the globe, it is critical for the earth and its people that ExxonMobil, Shell, BP, and Chevron end their decades of climate obstruction.  Instead of continuing their anti-climate lobbying efforts, these companies should heed the International Energy Agency’s call to stop building new oil and gas infrastructure and immediately begin a phase out of existing drilling.  


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