Exxon Hiding Behind Congressional Climate Deniers

by Vicky Wyatt

June 2, 2016

What happens when one of America’s most powerful oil companies is investigated for one of the biggest potential corporate cover-ups in history?

Exxon Knew Banner in Dallas

© Ron Heflin / Greenpeace

You’d hope that the allegations would be independently and thoroughly investigated, free from political interference, and if found to be true, the company held accountable.

You wouldn’t think that the multi-billion dollar company in question, so self-assured in its rejection of the allegations, would need 13 of the country’s least respected politicians to protect it.

But this is exactly what is happening.

Oil giant Exxon is currently being investigated by a number of state attorneys general to establish what the company knew and then what it disclosed about climate change to its shareholders and the public.

A few weeks ago, a letter dropped through Greenpeace USA’s mailbox from 13 Republican members of the House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology who hold some pretty dubious views on climate change. They demanded that Greenpeace —  along with seven other environmental and philanthropic organizations — turn over internal papers to try and stack up a half-baked conspiracy theory that green groups and  attorneys general are pursuing a politically motivated investigation that infringes their First Amendment right to freely continue the falsified debate over the causes and consequences of climate change.

This latest move from the House Committee is a blatant smokescreen. It’s a clumsy attempt to divert attention from the real issue: whether Exxon knew that it was contributing to climate change and hid this information for profit.

Exxon knows what’s at stake.

Its growing desperation is mirrored by its increasingly aggressive attempts to shut down this scandal. Hiding behind a bunch of elected officials — whose allegiance was already bought years ago by the millions they have received in campaign contributions from coal, oil and gas companies — try to derail these investigations isn’t surprising, but it does show how out of step Exxon and its friends are.

While they’re busy muttering to themselves about their right to free speech, millions of Americans want to have a conversation about how we rapidly change course from relying on fossil fuels and avoid the worst effects of climate change.

We told the House Committee that we wouldn’t turn over any documents. Greenpeace’s long-running commitment to finding solutions for climate change is based on the scientific consensus that action cannot be delayed by politics or false debate. We’ve been working publicly for almost two decades to reduce the emissions that cause climate change, advocated for corporate and government policies that address climate change, and exposed the corporations, lobbyists, and front groups that deny the existence of climate change and its causes.  

This work has always been and will always be informed by the underlying science that confirms that climate change is real and is caused by human-made carbon pollution, and intimidation tactics won’t stop us from working towards a climate-safe future.

Vicky Wyatt

By Vicky Wyatt

Vicky Wyatt works on the climate team at Greenpeace USA. 

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