The House Oversight Committee on Thursday issued its second round of appearance requests to the oil and gas industry in an investigation into the role it has played in the spread of climate disinformation.
House Oversight Chairwoman Carolyn Maloney, a New York Democrat, and Subcommittee on the Environment Chairman Ro Khanna, a California Democrat, sent letters to board members of four major oil and gas companies – ExxonMobil, Shell, BP and Chevron – requesting their testimony at a hearing slated for February 8.
It will be the committee’s second hearing since it launched the investigation in September. The first hearing included Big Oil executives from ExxonMobil, BP America, Chevron Corp., Shell Oil Co., the American Petroleum Institute and the US Chamber of Commerce.
The committee said it was calling these board of directors members to testify because of their “key governance role in addressing the climate crisis by overseeing and guiding companies’ climate strategies, promoting transparency, and holding management accountable to meaningful emissions reductions.” The panel, according to the letter, wants “to evaluate the current state of fossil fuel industry climate pledges and any progress that still needs to be made to meet the goals of the Paris Agreement and avert a climate catastrophe.”
The committee requested the appearance of Alexander Karsner and Susan Avery for ExxonMobil; Jane Holl Lute for Shell; Melody Meyer for BP; and Enrique Hernandez for Chevron.
CNN reached out to the oil and gas companies for comment.
In October, oil company CEOs and the trade group American Petroleum Institute testified in a high-profile hearing on Capitol Hill, facing tough questions from Democratic lawmakers about when they had understood the impact of burning fossil fuels on the environment and whether they were transparent with the public about the danger of climate change.
Thursday’s letters focus on the boards of directors for those companies, who Democratic lawmakers noted have billed themselves as climate change advocates and reformers who joined their respective boards to change the way the oil and gas companies do business.
“As I made clear in our October 2021 Committee hearing, we’ve only begun our investigation into the fossil fuel industry’s role in causing the climate crisis and spreading disinformation on global warming,” Maloney said in a statement.
The House Oversight Committee launched its investigation after an undercover video appeared to show an ExxonMobil lobbyist admitting the company fought climate policy and the science behind it.
Khanna told CNN the upcoming hearing will be a big moment for the industry.
“One of the reasons we want the board of directors to testify is we want to ensure that they and the companies are being accurate about the climate pledges and they’re actually taking action consistent with those pledges,” Khanna told CNN.
Several of the world’s largest oil and gas companies have pledged to cut operational emissions – though many of those goals do not include emissions from the fossil fuels produced and sold.
The letters not only invite the board members to testify but also request documents the committee says it has not received following a subpoena issued in October.
The companies have been complying with document requests to a certain extent, Khanna said, but the committee has not received what it considers the most critical documents – those that show what the companies’ scientific knowledge was when the industry said science around climate change was uncertain.
The panel, Khanna told CNN, is about a third of the way through its investigation, and it plans to also call social media companies and advertising agencies to testify about their roles in spreading climate change misinformation.