At a heated listening to on Thursday, Democrats had some huge questions for the chief executives of Exxon Mobil, Chevron, BP and Shell: Would they pledge to cease lobbying towards efforts to scale back emissions? And had been they keen to inform their highly effective commerce teams to cease working towards electrical autos?

None of the executives agreed.

Instead, the leaders of the 4 main oil and fuel corporations touted their assist for a transition to wash vitality and stated that they had by no means engaged in campaigns to mislead the general public on the position of fossil gasoline emissions in world warming. All 4 acknowledged that the burning of their merchandise was driving local weather change, but in addition informed lawmakers that fossil fuels aren’t about to vanish.

“Oil and gas will continue to be necessary for the foreseeable future,” stated Darren Woods, C.E.O. of Exxon Mobil. “We currently do not have the adequate alternative energy sources.”

Democrats responded with forceful language within the greater than six-hour listening to. “Some of us actually have to live the future that you all are setting on fire for us,” Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York informed the executives.

Democrats had hoped to recapture the drama of the tobacco hearings of the Nineteen Nineties, the place lawmakers put the C.E.O.s of cigarette corporations on the recent seat and every government informed the nation that smoking was not addictive. There was shouting, shaming, and one demonstration involving a jar of M&Ms to make the purpose that the businesses had been investing comparatively little in renewables, about 1 % of their complete capital expenditure, in keeping with the International Energy Agency.

But the executives — Mr. Woods of Exxon Mobil, Gretchen Watkins of Shell, Michael Ok. Wirth of Chevron and David Lawler of BP — appeared to have discovered from the tobacco hearings as effectively, sticking to their scripts, emphasizing their issues over world warming and citing their inner targets for chopping emissions.

The 4 executives, in addition to Suzanne Clark from the United States Chamber of Commerce and Mike Sommers from the trade group American Petroleum Institute, appeared on video screens, not in individual, out of issues over the pandemic.

Republicans on the House Committee on Oversight and Reform questioned the premise of the hearings, calling it a distraction from extra essential issues dealing with the nation and stated the oil executives must be thanked for many years of maintaining houses heat and lights blazing.

“I’ll tell you what’s frustrating, is a member of Congress telling American oil and gas companies to reduce production,” stated Representative Jim Jordan, Republican of Ohio, including that he felt these corporations ought to as a substitute be counseled for growing manufacturing. “God bless Chevron,” he stated.

The listening to marked the primary time oil executives had been pressed publicly to reply questions, underneath oath, about whether or not their corporations misled the general public concerning the actuality of local weather change by obscuring the scientific consensus: that the burning of fossil fuels is elevating Earth’s temperature and sea ranges with devastating penalties worldwide, together with intensifying storms, worsening drought and deadlier wildfires.

It got here as President Biden urged lawmakers to vote to approve a $1.85 trillion local weather and social coverage package deal. On Monday Mr. Biden will converse to world leaders at a United Nations summit in Glasgow to make the case that the United States is chopping emissions, and to induce different nations to do extra.

In Thursday’s House listening to, a number of the greatest moments centered on what the oil executives wouldn’t say.

In one alternate, Representative Carolyn Maloney of New York, chairwoman of the committee, requested all 4 if they’d decide to not spending any cash, both immediately or not directly, to oppose efforts to scale back emissions and deal with local weather change.

“Will you take the pledge? Yes or no?” Rep. Maloney stated.

In one other, Representative Ro Khanna, Democrat of California, requested the executives to inform the American Petroleum Institute and different commerce teams, which the businesses pay to characterize their pursuits in Washington, to cease funding commercials towards electrical autos and different local weather insurance policies.

“He’s sitting right next to you on the virtual screen,” Mr. Khanna stated of API’s president, Mr. Sommers. “Tell them to knock it off.”

The executives didn’t decide to both of the requests.

“What I’ll commit to is continuing to be an active member of the API,” stated Ms. Watkins of Shell.

API, an trade group which the 4 corporations in Thursday’s House testimony are members of, spent nearly half 1,000,000 {dollars} to run advertisements opposing Democratic members of Congress. Those advertisements, which embrace advertisements that focused particular person members of Congress for his or her assist of local weather insurance policies, had been considered at the least 21 million instances, in keeping with Facebook information.

Mr. Woods, the C.E.O. of Exxon Mobil, confronted questions on firm statements over time that forged doubt on whether or not fossil fuels had been the principle driver of local weather change. He stated the positions had been “entirely consistent” with the scientific consensus of the time.

He additionally stated {that a} 1997 assertion by Lee Raymond, then Exxon’s chief government, that “currently, the scientific evidence is inconclusive” concerning the position of human exercise in warming was “consistent with the science.” Two years earlier, the United Nations’ prime local weather science physique had reached a consensus that world warming is happening, and that the burning of fossil fuels was a big trigger.

Mr. Woods additionally stated that Exxon Mobil now acknowledges local weather change, but “there are no easy answers,” to fixing it.

Other executives agreed. Mr. Lawler stated the truth that his firm has a aim by 2050 of reaching “net zero” — that means it might not pump any extra greenhouse gases into the ambiance from its personal operations — “doesn’t mean BP is getting out of the oil and gas business.” Mr. Wirth of Chevron stated, “The undeniable reality is that oil and gas remain a part of the energy equation.”

A key Republican witness was Neal Crabtree, a former employee on the Keystone XL pipeline, a development venture that President Biden canceled on Inauguration Day that might have transported crude from Canada’s oil sands to the United States. Just hours after Mr. Biden took workplace Mr. Crabtree misplaced his job, he stated, making him a sufferer of insurance policies that had been killing fossil gasoline jobs. (He stated he had since discovered different work.)

“There seems to be no thought given to the hundreds of thousands of workers in this industry,” he stated. “I’ve spent over 25 years developing the skills that I have,” he stated. “I’m too far in life to be starting over.”

Representative James Comer of Kentucky, the senior Republican on the oversight committee, stated Democrats had been ignoring the bread-and-butter points dealing with Americans like Mr. Crabtree. “It’s critical that this committee examine the pressing concerns of American citizens,” he stated, pointing to inflation, excessive fuel costs, immigration issues and the coronavirus pandemic. He didn’t point out the local weather.

The catalyst for the House hearings was a sting operation earlier this yr by the activist group Greenpeace. The group captured on video an Exxon lobbyist who stated that the corporate had fought local weather science by “shadow groups” and focused influential senators in an effort to weaken President Biden’s local weather proposals.

Mr. Woods stated on the time that the feedback “under no circumstances characterize the corporate’s place, and several other of the senators later stated that the lobbyist had exaggerated their relationship or that that they had no dealings with him. Soon after, Mr. Khanna known as for trade executives to testify earlier than Congress.

Also on the listening to Ms. Maloney launched a report by House committee employees exhibiting that although all 4 oil corporations stated they assist the Paris settlement, a 2015 worldwide accord that goals to maintain world temperatures at comparatively secure ranges, few have lobbied to assist it. The report discovered that the overwhelming majority of corporations’ lobbying efforts are directed at chopping taxes.

Former President Donald J. Trump withdrew the United States from the Paris settlement throughout his time period in workplace. President Biden rejoined it in January.

According to the research, the 4 oil corporations and commerce teams reported 4,597 situations of lobbying Congress since that settlement was inked. Of these solely eight referenced lobbying on the Paris Agreement, and none cited lobbying on laws to chop carbon emissions and promote the targets of the settlement.

Ms. Maloney stated she intends to difficulty subpoenas to the businesses to see whether or not they’re spending to fund campaigns that combat local weather coverage and if that’s the case, how a lot. She stated that whereas the businesses had submitted 1000’s of pages of paperwork to the committee, a lot of them had been of little use. One firm, she stated, printed 1,500 pages from its personal web site.


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