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Democrats Urge DOJ to Investigate Oil Majors for Climate Change Disinformation

U.S. Democratic lawmakers have referred the world’s largest international oil companies to the U.S. Department of Justice, urging an investigation into Big Oil’s ‘deceptive claims’ about its products that have misled the public about the effects on climate.

The U.S. House Oversight Committee launched in 2021 an investigation over “the reported role of the fossil fuel industry in a long-running, industry-wide campaign to spread disinformation about the role of fossil fuels in causing global warming.”   

The multi-year investigation, initiated by House Oversight Democrats and now undertaken jointly with Senate Budget, has “unveiled damning new documents that exposed the fossil fuel industry’s ongoing efforts to deceive the public and block climate action,” the office of Senate Budget Chairman Sheldon Whitehouse said this week.

The investigation into ExxonMobil, Chevron, Shell, BP, the American Petroleum Institute (API), and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce “uncovered new evidence of the fossil fuel industry’s pattern of deceptive claims regarding its products, their effects on the climate, and its plans to reduce emissions and combat climate change.”

As a result, Senate Budget Chairman Sheldon Whitehouse and House Oversight and Accountability Ranking Member Jamie Raskin called on Attorney General Merrick Garland to investigate Big Oil for a decades-long disinformation campaign. 

“The investigation also revealed significant collaboration with trade associations to deceive the public, policymakers, and investors about the fossil fuel companies’ true positions on various climate- and energy-related issues,” Whitehouse and Raskin wrote in the letter to DOJ.

“For these reasons, we formally refer this matter to DOJ and request that you launch an investigation into the fossil fuel industry’s decades-long history of engaging in deceptive practices to determine whether the entities violated any applicable federal statutes.”

The American Petroleum Institute (API) slammed the Democrats’ move with a spokesperson saying “This is another unfounded political charade to distract from persistent inflation and America’s need for more energy, including oil and natural gas.”

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“U.S. energy workers are focused on delivering the reliable, affordable oil and natural gas Americans demand and any suggestion to the contrary is false,” according to the API statement carried by Reuters.

By Tsvetana Paraskova for Oilprice.com

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