New Evidence of Big Oil’s Climate Deception Demands Justice Dept. Inquiry

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Members of the U.S. House and Senate today jointly released new evidence shining further light on the fossil fuel industry’s decades-long efforts to deceive the American people about climate change.

Richard Wiles, president of the Center for Climate Integrity, released the following statement:

“This new evidence of Big Oil’s climate lies will likely be used to hold these companies accountable in court — and it should generate renewed calls for the U.S. Department of Justice to finally open its own investigation into the fossil fuel industry.

“We applaud Senator Whitehouse, Representative Raskin, and their committees for helping to shine further light on Big Oil’s ongoing climate deception. Communities across the country are already taking these polluters to court to make them pay for their deceit, and many of their lawsuits have cited documents unearthed by Congress as evidence.

“Big Oil’s concerted efforts to mislead the public about their destructive industry are the most consequential corporate fraud in history. Tomorrow’s hearing should make clear that it’s time for the U.S. Justice Department to get off the sidelines and take action to hold Big Oil accountable for lying to the American people for decades."

Background on Congressional Investigations into Big Oil

In 2021, the U.S. House Committee on Oversight and Reform launched an investigation into the role of ExxonMobil, Chevron, Shell, BP, the American Petroleum Institute, and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce in a “long-running, industry-wide campaign to spread disinformation about the role of fossil fuels in causing global warming.”

In a historic hearing, the Big Oil executives testified before the committee and refused under oath to pledge that they would stop spending money to oppose climate action. The committee subpoenaed the companies for documents, and in 2022, the committee twice released new evidence showing that the companies continue to obstruct climate action and deceive the public.

Background on Congressional Calls for DOJ Action Against Big Oil

Last summer, nearly two dozen House and Senate members wrote letters to Attorney General Merrick Garland urging the Department of Justice to either investigate or sue Exxon, Shell, and other fossil fuel companies for violating fraud, racketeering, and other federal laws.

Background on State and Local Climate Accountability Lawsuits Against Big Oil

The attorneys general of California, Connecticut, Delaware, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Jersey, Rhode Island, Vermont, and the District of Columbia, as well as dozens of municipal governments in California, Colorado, Hawai`i, Illinois, Maryland, New Jersey, New York, Oregon, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, and Puerto Rico, and two tribal governments, have filed lawsuits to hold major oil and gas companies accountable for deceiving the public about their products’ role in climate change.

At least four of those lawsuits have cited evidence unearthed by the House Oversight investigation in their filings.

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