Exxon’s Climate Denial Set To Face First Public Scrutiny As Legal Woes Mount

The oil giant’s refusal to answer European lawmakers’ questions could result in a loss of lobbying access.

Oil rigs stand in the Permian Basin area of Odessa, Texas, U.S., on Saturday, Jan. 19, 2019. In the Permian, America's busiest oil patch, a producer needs to blast as much as 60,000 barrels of water into a well every day, along with sand and chemicals, to complete the fracking that cracks open the tight, oil-bearing rock about a mile underground. Photographer: Sergio Flores/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Exxon’s Climate Denial Set To Face First Public Scrutiny As Legal Woes Mount
The oil giant’s refusal to answer European lawmakers’ questions could result in a loss of lobbying access.

It’s been nearly four years since leaked documents revealed Exxon Mobil Corp. understood that fossil fuel emissions caused the planet to warm before it began funding a Big Tobacco-style misinformation campaign to discredit climate science.

Now the world’s largest publicly traded oil company will face public questions for the first time over its role in creating a climate crisis that threatens to upend human civilization and render dozens of major cities uninhabitable before the end of the century.

On Thursday, European Parliament members are set to hold a hearing in Brussels that could strip Exxon Mobil of lobbying access and deepen the oil giant’s mounting legal woes.

“The historical evidence is incontrovertible,” Geoffrey Supran, the Harvard University researcher who co-authored the first peer-reviewed analysis of Exxon Mobil’s history of climate communication, said by phone. “The evidence points only one way, that these companies and trade associations funded misinformation to stifle policymakers.”

The organizers say Exxon Mobil declined an invitation to testify. Spokesmen for the company did not respond to a request for comment on Monday.

Under new rules, the European Union’s lawmakers could ban the company from lobbying the transnational parliament overseeing a market that in 2015 made up 14 percent of its global oil and gas production and into which it invested $2 billion last year to expand a new refinery. In 2017, the European parliament barred the agrochemical giant Monsanto ― now owned by the German conglomerate Bayer ― after the company rebuffed an invitation to testify at a hearing on whether it influenced studies into the safety of the glyphosate used in its RoundUp weedkiller.