Sep 17, 2021 - Energy & Environment

The uncertain showdown between Democrats and Big Oil

Picture of Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-N.Y.)

Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-N.Y.). Photo: Drew Angerer/Getty Images

Big Oil companies are noncommittal about testifying before a House panel probing the industry's role in spreading misinformation about climate change.

Catch up fast: Top House Oversight and Reform Committee Democrats yesterday sent letters to Exxon, Shell, BP and Chevron — as well as two key lobbying groups — asking top execs to testify Oct. 28.

  • They criticize the companies and wider industry for working to "prevent serious action" by casting doubt on fossil fuels' harms. The letters also ask for a suite of documents. The NYT has more.

What we don't know: Whether the Democrats will confront the executives on-camera.

  • Exxon — which is under extra pressure after a lobbyist's unfiltered comments were caught on tape — said through a spokesperson that it received the letter and "will continue to communicate with committee staff." Chevron also told Axios it's reviewing the letter.
  • BP did not commit to sending the head of its U.S. unit but did note its commitment to "net-zero" emissions by 2050 and advocacy for CO2 pricing and methane rules.
  • Shell said it's reviewing the request and looks "forward to working with the Committee to address their questions," and cited its support for the Paris Agreement.

What they're saying: A committee aide tells Axios that lawmakers "will consider all options at their disposal including subpoenas."

  • "We are deeply concerned that the fossil fuel industry has reaped massive profits for decades while contributing to climate change that is devastating American communities," committee chair Rep. Carolyn Maloney and Rep. Ro Khanna, a top lieutenant, said in a statement.

Of note: The American Petroleum Institute, whose president is also invited, said it accepts the invitation and will "advance our priorities of pricing carbon, regulating methane and reliably producing American energy."

Go deeper