The House Committee on Oversight and Reform issued subpoenas Tuesday for documents from some of the world’s biggest oil and gas companies to build its case that Big Oil has for decades misled the public about climate change.
Two lobbying groups funded by fossil fuel firms, the American Petroleum Institute and U.S. Chamber of Commerce, were also given subpoenas.
The requests were sent as many top U.S. officials, including President Biden and many of his Cabinet members, attended a major climate summit in Scotland in an attempt to push other nations to drastically cut their greenhouse gas emissions.
Rep. Carolyn B. Maloney (D-N.Y.), chair of the committee, said the six entities failed to produce a “substantial portion” of the documents requested from them ahead of a historic hearing Thursday, at which top executives appeared before the House panel for questioning about climate change.
“So I see no choice but continue our committee’s investigation until we see the truth,” Maloney said at the end of the hearing, noting one of the groups simply printed out and sent in 1,500 pages from its own website. She concluded the hearing by announcing that subpoenas would be sent shortly.
In September, the panel asked the companies to voluntarily hand over documents related to their marketing and lobbying efforts and their funding of outside groups, among other subjects.
The hearing was the first time top oil officials were grilled under oath about whether their companies sought to obscure the science of human-caused climate change, much of which comes through the burning of gasoline and other products they sell.
Exxon CEO Darren Woods, for instance, faced questions about past corporate statements dismissing climate change, even as the company’s in-house researchers had studied the issue for years.
During the hearing, Woods and other executives acknowledged climate change poses risks, but they denied involvement in a campaign to deceive the public.
Exxon spokesman Casey Norton wrote by email Tuesday that the company has already provided almost 130,000 pages of documents and has been “cooperating with the committee since their first contact months ago.”
Matt Letourneau, managing director of communications at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s Global Energy Institute, said “we have made every effort to cooperate with the committee and will review this request.”
In statements Tuesday, representatives from Chevron BP, Shell and the API also said they will continue to work with the committee.
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