Energy & Environment

Two House Democrats question PR-award firms on work with fossil fuel companies

Raúl Grijalva
Bonnie Cash

Reps. Katie Porter (D-Calif.) and Raúl Grijalva (D-Ariz.) sent a letter Wednesday to six public relations-award firms, asking for details on their work with energy companies and whether they had aided them in campaigns to obscure the link between fossil fuels and climate change.

The members specifically cited a video recorded last summer by an undercover Greenpeace activist, in which Exxon lobbyist Keith McCoy tells the videographer the company “[fought] against some of the science” and used “shadow groups” to obfuscate the link.

The letters ask the firms in question for information on campaigns they have been awarded involving oil, coal or natural gas companies and trade associations no later than Feb. 23.

Recipients of the letters included the Academy of Interactive and Visual Arts, the Association of Marketing and Communication Professionals, Haymarket Media, the Minnesota Public Relations Society of America, PR News, and Provoke Media.

“The oil and gas industry spent decades trying to convince people that climate change wasn’t real, or that fossil fuels didn’t play a major role in causing it,” Grijalva said in a statement. “Now that they can no longer get away with outright denial, they are using unknown tactics like the ones described by McCoy and his industry colleagues to undermine climate initiatives.”

“Big Oil has been waging a decades-long disinformation campaign to cover up the damage they’re doing to our planet,” Porter said. “We know that these companies purposefully withheld data and lobbied against measures that could have saved lives, all in service of their bottom line. With new reports about how polluters’ tactics may have evolved—at great risk to our environment, health, and economy—we must redouble our work to hold oil companies and their enablers accountable.”

The House Oversight and Reform Committee previously responded to the release of the McCoy video by calling the CEOs of major fossil fuel companies to testify. At the hearing, the witnesses denied knowingly obscuring the connection between fossil fuel emissions and climate change, and all said they acknowledge the relationship. Committee Chair Carolyn Maloney (D-N.Y.) subpoenaed the witnesses following the hearing, saying they did not produce requested documents.

An executive with the Academy of Interactive & Visual Arts confirmed receipt of the letter to The Hill.

The Hill has reached out to other recipients for comment.

This story was updated at 7:12 p.m. on Feb. 10.


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