Energy & Environment

House Democrats ask PR firms for fossil fuel campaign documents

Rep. Raul Grijalva (D-Ariz.) addresses reporters during a press conference on Thursday, May 19, 2022 to discuss the Puerto Rico Status Act.
Greg Nash
Rep. Raul Grijalva (D-Ariz.) addresses reporters during a press conference on Thursday, May 19, 2022 to discuss the Puerto Rico Status Act.

Reps. Raúl Grijalva (D-Ariz.) and Katie Porter (D-Calif.) on Monday requested documents from five public relations firms and the American Petroleum Institute (API) detailing their work for fossil fuel companies. 

Porter and Grijalva wrote to API, FTI Consulting, Story Partners, DDC Advocacy, Blue Advertising and Singer Associates asking for all documents pertaining to the firms’ campaigns for oil, gas and coal companies, dating back to 2013.  

Grijalva, the chairman of the House Natural Resources Committee, cited an undercover video by Greenpeace activists from summer 2021, in which Exxon lobbyist Keith McCoy said the energy giant has used “shadow groups” to cast doubt on the reality of climate change. 

“Thanks to the accidental truth-telling by the former ExxonMobil lobbyist, we know there is a lot to uncover about the ways fossil fuel companies spread disinformation and lies about climate change,” Grijalva said in a statement. “If we’re going to take meaningful action against climate change, we need to be armed with facts and science, not industry propaganda. The American people deserve to know the truth and we intend to do our job to find it.” 

“Fossil fuel companies have been lying to the public for decades to cover up the damage they’re doing to the planet and our long-term economic wellbeing,” added Porter, chair of the committee’s oversight and investigations subcommittee. 

The two representatives in February requested similar documents from organizations that award PR firms. Meanwhile Porter, in her capacity as a member of the House Oversight Committee, last year questioned oil executives on their companies’ knowledge of climate change in decades past even as they publicly promoted denial of it. 

In recent years, the fossil fuel industry has acknowledged climate change and publicly expressed a desire to contribute to the solution through increased use of renewable energy. Its detractors, however, have dismissed such efforts as “greenwashing” that does not properly address their role in the climate crisis. 

“At a time of record inflation and rising energy costs, we need solutions to unlock more American energy to keep the lights on and meet demand while reducing US emissions. And that’s exactly what our industry has been focused on,” API SVP Megan Bloomgren told The Hill in a statement. 

“Any suggestion to the contrary is false. American energy is produced safer, more reliably, and to among the highest environmental standards in the world.”

The Hill has reached out to the other firms in question for comment. 

Updated 11:42 p.m.

Tags fossil fuel industry Katie Porter Oil companies Raul Grijalva

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