BP, Shell leaders to face Congress over alleged climate cover-up

BP logos are pictured at a BP petrol and diesel filling station in north London on May 12, 2021. (Glyn Kirk/AFP via Getty Images/TNS)
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Ari Natter Bloomberg News (TNS)

WASHINGTON — Executives from BP Plc and Royal Dutch Shell Plc will testify before a House committee investigating allegations that oil giants misled the public about the role of fossil fuels in causing global warming.

The hearing planned for later this month by the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee follows an investigation by the panel into what it termed a “long-running, industry wide campaign” of climate disinformation.

The investigation comes as reports raise questions about the role of the oil industry, and its allies, in preventing action on global warming by sowing doubt about the dangers of fossil fuels, according to the committee.

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Industry representatives have denied wrongdoing.

BP’s top U.S. official, Dave Lawler, plans to testify at a hearing and Shell said it would make an official available as well. Shell Oil Co. President Gretchen Watkins is widely expected to testify on the company’s behalf, according to a person familiar with the matter.

“We are actively advocating for policies, such as carbon pricing and regulating methane, that will support the energy transition, the Paris climate agreement and help the world reach net zero carbon emissions,” BP said in a statement.

Exxon Mobil Corp. is expected to make an official available as well, according to a separate person familiar with the matter. A company spokesman said discussions with committee staff remain ongoing.

Chevron Corp., which was also asked by the committee to make Chief Executive Officer Michael K. Wirth available, didn’t respond to an email seeking comment.

“API welcomes the opportunity to testify again before the House Oversight Committee and advance our priorities of pricing carbon, regulating methane and reliably producing American energy,” Bethany Aronhalt, a spokeswoman for the Washington-based trade group said in an email.

The committee announced the probe in September and requested a trove of documents from the companies. Among them were communications from company executives on climate science, climate change, clean energy and the role of fossil fuels in causing climate change. The committee also said it was seeking documents regarding the influencing of public opinion and communications with the government and the White House.

“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, costing taxpayers billions of dollars, and ravaging the natural world,” committee leaders wrote to company executives. “We are also concerned that to protect those profits, the industry has reportedly led a coordinated effort to spread disinformation to mislead the public and prevent crucial action to address climate change.”

A committee spokeswoman didn’t respond to an email seeking comment.

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