Democrats Still Focused On Punishing Big Oil As Gas Tops $5 A Gallon

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Thomas Catenacci Energy & Environment Reporter
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Democratic leaders on the House Natural Resources Committee sent letters to five public relations (PR) firms Sunday, requesting information about their work with the fossil fuel industry.

Arizona Rep. Raúl Grijalva, the committee’s chairman, and California Rep. Katie Porter, the top Democrat on the panel’s oversight and investigations subcommittee, accused the PR firms of working with oil and gas companies to wage a decades-long misinformation campaign to deny climate change, in an announcement Monday. The Democrats said the five firms — FTI Consulting, Story Partners, DDC Advocacy, Blue Advertising and Singer Associates — have used tactics employed by the tobacco industry in the past.

“Fossil fuel companies have been lying to the public for decades to cover up the damage they’re doing to the planet and our long-term economic wellbeing,” Porter said in a statement. “The American people deserve the truth—and Big Oil needs to be held accountable. Chair Grijalva and I want answers.” (RELATED: Big Oil Thumbs Nose At Democrats, CEOs Decline Price Gouging Hearing Invitation)

In their letters, the Democrats cited comments from senior ExxonMobil lobbyist Keith McCoy discreetly recorded in June 2021. McCoy said the Big Oil company had previously used “shadow groups” to fight back against climate change messaging, The New York Times reported at the time.

“Thanks to the accidental truth-telling by the former ExxonMobil lobbyist, we know there is a lot to uncover about the ways fossil fuel companies spread disinformation and lies about climate change,” Grijalva said. “If we’re going to take meaningful action against climate change, we need to be armed with facts and science, not industry propaganda. The American people deserve to know the truth and we intend to do our job to find it.”

Active pump jacks increase pressure to draw oil toward the surface at the South Belridge Oil Field on Feb. 26 in Kern County, California. (Robyn Beck/AFP via Getty Images)

Active pump jacks increase pressure to draw oil toward the surface at the South Belridge Oil Field on Feb. 26 in Kern County, California. (Robyn Beck/AFP via Getty Images)

FTI Consulting declined to comment on the Democrats’ letter. The four other firms probed didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment from The Daily Caller News Foundation.

Meanwhile, the average price of gasoline nationwide surged to an all-time record of $5.01 a gallon on Monday, according to AAA data.

The letters from Grijalva and Porter are part of a broader committee effort to uncover information about the fossil fuel industry’s “misinformation campaign” using outside consulting groups. The two lawmakers similarly sent letters to six organizations that give out PR-related awards in February, demanding information about the alleged campaign.

In addition, the two Democratic leaders sent a letter to American Petroleum Institute (API) President Mike Sommers on Sunday asking for information on the group’s work related to climate change on behalf of its fossil fuel industry clients.

“At a time of record inflation and rising energy costs, we need solutions to unlock more American energy to keep the lights on and meet demand while reducing US emissions. And that’s exactly what our industry has been focused on,” API spokesperson Megan Bloomgren said in a statement shared with TheDCNF. “Any suggestion to the contrary is false.”

“American energy is produced safer, more reliably, and to among the highest environmental standards in the world,” she continued.

Representatives for Grijalva and Porter did not immediately respond to TheDCNF’s request for comment.

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