Maloney to subpoena top oil companies over climate 'disinformation campaign'

Maloney to subpoena top oil companies over climate 'disinformation campaign'
© Associated Press/Bill Clark/Pool

House Oversight Committee Chair Carolyn MaloneyCarolyn MaloneyOvernight Energy & Environment — Biden announces green buildings initiative House panel asks five oil company board members to testify House Democrats inquire about possible census undercount in Detroit, other communities MORE (D-N.Y.) said Thursday that the panel will subpoena six oil companies and institutions for further financial information and internal communications, which she said they did not provide ahead of Thursday’s hearing.

Moloney said that rather than providing the documentation requested, the six companies had provided “reams of other documents, many of which were publicly available," such as annual reports and printouts of websites.

“I have tried very hard to obtain this information voluntarily but the oil companies employ the same tactics they used for decades on climate policy: delay and obstruction. Well, that ends today,” she said.  

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“I do not take this step lightly,” she added. “We need to get to the bottom of the oil industry’s disinformation campaign, and with these subpoenas, we will.”

The witnesses included representatives from Chevron, Exxon, Shell, BP, the American Petroleum Institute and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

Maloney went on to say she had “no choice” but to continue the committee’s investigation into the oil interests. Among her requests is information on any payments from the oil companies to third-party front groups and public-relations firms that sought to undermine climate science. 

“I had hoped today would be a turning point,” Maloney said, expressing gratitude that the executives conceded burning fossil fuels is a major contributor to climate change.

But “we heard much of the same denial and deflection that we have heard before. Today’s witnesses refused to take responsibility for Big Oil’s decades-long disinformation campaign, and even after agreeing that we are in ‘code red’ crisis, they refuse to stop funding groups like the American Petroleum Institute that are still blocking reforms like expanding the use of electric vehicles.”

“Nearly all the companies” have failed to provide detailed documentation on corporate strategies on climate change, and most of the companies have yet to provide internal executive communications on the matter, she said. 

Rep. James ComerJames (Jamie) R. ComerSwalwell slams House Republican for touting funding in bill she voted down Conservatives push for boycott of GOP club over DC vaccine mandate House Republicans call for oversight into Biden's 'failed' COVID-19 response MORE (R-Ky), the ranking member on the committee, objected to Maloney's pronouncement at the end of the hearing. 

"The oil and gas executives here today have provided over 100,000 pages of documents and we feel like that's an infringement on their first amendment rights," Comer said of the subpoenas. 

"This is an oversight, government and reform committee, we're supposed to focus on waste, fraud and abuse in the federal bureaucracy," he added.