House Oversight Committee chair accused the largest oil company in the US of lying about climate change since the 1970s

House Oversight Committee chair accused the largest oil company in the US of lying about climate change since the 1970s
Chair Carolyn Maloney speaks during a House Oversight and Government Reform Committee hearing to examine a Republican-led Arizona audit of the 2020 presidential election results in Arizona's most populous county, Maricopa, on Capitol Hill in Washington, US, October 7, 2021. Bill Clark/Pool via REUTERS
  • House Oversight Committee chair Carolyn Maloney accused oil execs of lying to Congress about their knowledge of the industry's role in global warming.
  • She confronted ExxonMobil CEO Darren Woods about his company knowing of the dangers of burning fossil fuels since the 1970s.

House Oversight Committee Chair Carolyn Maloney accused top executives from oil giants like ExxonMobil and Chevron of lying to Congress about whether they knew that burning fossil fuels harms the environment while they fought against the idea of climate change.

"They are obviously lying like the tobacco executives were," said Maloney, who represents New York, at a landmark seven-hour congressional hearing on Thursday about the climate crisis. She referred to a 1994 hearing when the CEOs of seven tobacco companies testified that nicotine isn't addictive.

Democrat lawmakers grilled executives from four major petroleum companies - ExxonMobil, Chevron, BP America, and Shell Oil - on whether they believed burning fossil fuels contributes to the climate emergency.

Maloney confronted ExxonMobil CEO Darren Woods, saying that his company's scientists had repeatedly warned the leadership of the oil industry's role in climate change since the 1970s.

The oil giant had for years raised doubts about climate change's legitimacy, as in 1997 when its then-CEO Lee Raymond said the "case for global warming is far from airtight" and that scientific evidence was "inconclusive."


"There is a clear conflict between what the Exxon CEO told the public and what Exxon scientists were warning privately for years," Maloney said during the hearing.

Woods denied that ExxonMobil, the largest oil corporation in the US by market capitalization, had spread any disinformation. He also said that its statements on climate change were "consistent with science" at the time.

ExxonMobil now recognizes climate change and fossil fuels' contribution to the crisis, said Woods, but burning the company's products can't be helped.

"Oil and gas will continue to be necessary for the foreseeable future," Woods said. "We currently do not have the adequate alternative energy sources."

Other oil executives also rejected the idea that they knowingly promoted false claims about climate change. Maloney and other Democrat representatives pressed the top execs to pledge that their companies would stop lobbying against initiatives to reduce global warming. All four refused.


Meanwhile, GOP representatives at the hearing criticized the investigation. Rep Clay Higgins of Louisiana said the hearing on Thursday was a "threat from within" aimed at the US oil industry.

Kentucky Rep James Comer said it was a "distraction from the crises that the Biden administration's policies have caused," highlighting matters like rising gasoline prices.