MN350 statement on testimony from oil execs
October 29, 2021
(St. Paul, MN) -- Today the U.S. House Oversight Committee grilled fossil fuel executives over their decades of deception in knowingly promoting false information about the risk their products posed to a healthy climate. The hearing marked the first time top executives from the largest oil company, ExxonMobil, as well as Shell, Chevron and BP have been questioned under oath about the industry’s long effort to deny the clear science that burning fossil fuels drove global heating. The situation mirrors that of the big tobacco cases of late ‘90s when cigarette manufacturers faced a similar reckoning over their fraudulent marketing and PR tactics.
The hearing also came just days after the Guardian released a poll showing that most Americans "want to see oil and gas companies held to account for lying about the climate crisis and contributing to global heating."
“The costs of climate change are all around us, said MN350 Deputy Director Brett Benson, “and we are all bearing the cost. It is high time the fossil fuel industry is held accountable for knowingly marketing false information while our climate degrades and humans suffer the consequences.”
Before the hearing, MN350 on Tuesday hosted a panel discussion spotlighting the fossil fuel industry’s decades-long pattern of lies and cover-ups about the climate crisis. The panel included a screening of a video produced by MN350 titled “They Knew. They lied. They should pay.” Panelists explored Minnesota’s attempt to hold the fossil fuel industry accountable via a consumer fraud lawsuit filed in 2020 by Attorney General Keith Ellison. Panelists included Ellen Anderson from the Minnesota Center for Environmental Advocacy; Kert Davies from the Climate Investigations Center; Minnesota meteorologist Sven Sundgaard; and Megan Matthews from the Center for Climate Integrity.
In a letter from the House Oversight Committee to fossil fuel executives congressional leaders noted that between 2015 and 2018, the five largest publicly traded oil and gas companies reportedly spent $1 billion to promote climate disinformation through “branding and lobbying.”
In Minnesota the results of these decades of lying are being felt across the state. A 2014 report from the Environmental Quality Board estimated that Minnesotans pay more than $1 billion annually in climate related costs, a number that has likely increased over the years.