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Internal documents illuminate industry's efforts to deceive public and investors ahead of Senate hearing: 'A rare glimpse'

"For decades, the fossil-fuel industry has known about the economic and climate harms of its products."

"For decades, the fossil-fuel industry has known about the economic and climate harms of its products."

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The ​​House Oversight Committee has thrown fuel on the growing fire under Big Oil's feet. In a revival of its two-year investigation into the dirty energy industry, recently released new internal documents illuminate the truth of the industry's role in our planet's rapid overheating. 

What is happening? 

An investigation started by congressional Democrats in 2021 that was put on hold when Republicans took control of the chamber in 2022 just received internal documents the Democrats had subpoenaed from Big Oil. 

As detailed by Heated, the documents are from Exxon, Chevron, Shell, BP, the American Petroleum Institute, and the Chamber of Commerce. They add to previous reporting from 2015 from Inside Climate News and the Los Angeles Times detailing that Exxon knew how dangerous the effects of rising global temperatures were for decades but hid the findings from the public. 

They are part of a hearing by the Senate Budget Committee titled "Denial, Disinformation, and Doublespeak: Big Oil's Evolving Efforts to Avoid Accountability for Climate Change," which claims Big Oil shifted from denial to "deception, disinformation, and doublespeak." According to the Committee, all six entities obstructed and delayed the Committees' investigation.  

As further reported by Heated, Democrats say their new findings provide "a rare glimpse into the extensive efforts undertaken by fossil fuel companies to deceive the public and investors about their knowledge of the effects of their products on climate change and to undermine efforts to curb greenhouse gas emissions."

What did the documents reveal? 

The list is long and disheartening, but here's the gist. 

Dirty energy companies have funded partnerships with universities to bolster their credibility and shape academic research programs to pump out studies that support a long life for oil and gas. The new documents reveal previously unknown funding levels and how companies base their funding on academics' cooperation.

The companies publicly tout their support of the Paris Agreement and efforts to slow our planet's overheating, but privately admit they could not achieve those goals and that the goals don't align with their business plans.

They aim to ensure the long-term use of dirty energy and promote natural gas as a green, climate-friendly fuel while internally acknowledging that scientific evidence shows the lifetime pollution from natural gas is as harmful to the climate as coal. 

Why should you care?

Dirty energy is, and has long been, one of the main contributors to our overheating planet, while Big Oil has been leading the public to believe it is doing its part and lining its pockets and those of its shareholders. 

This level of greenwashing is extremely dangerous and can be hard to spot. It keeps consumers from making choices that benefit the environment and holding companies like these accountable for their actions. 

In the case of Big Oil, it has also directly led to the continued overheating of our planet and the effects that come along with it. 

The Guardian reported that Rhode Island Democrat and Committee Chair Sheldon Whitehouse said, "For decades, the fossil-fuel industry has known about the economic and climate harms of its products but has deceived the American public to keep collecting more than [$600 billion] each year in subsidies while raking in record-breaking profits."

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