U.S. environmental groups condemned Thursday how a dozen of lawmakers are trying to protect oil giant ExxonMobil from scrutiny and defend its public image despite the company 's "catastrophic " record on climate change.
Thirteen members of Congress from the Science, Space, and Technology Committee "need to take some time away from lobbyist mixers and meet the people," said the U.S. branch of Greenpeace in a communique, adding "American citizens believe in climate change and want a better future."
The environmental group was reacting to a letter sent by the lawmakers one day earlier, requesting Greenpeace and seven other groups to provide information about their role in the launch of a transparency operation on March 29 targetting ExxonMobil by 17 state sttorney generals - who received the letter as well.
In the letter, the lawmakers denounced that the lawmakers and the environmentalists for trying to "demonize the fossil fuel industry," claiming the Congress had the right of "funding and conducting scientific research free from intimidation and threats of prosecution."
"If Exxon knew its work made climate change worse and hid this information for profit, it should be held accountable, not protected by elected officials who are there to represent the American people, not corporations," added Greenpeace. "Since 1999, these 13 elected officials have been paid millions in campaign contributions from coal, oil and gas companies, so this letter is more proof that the system works –for corporations."
On the same day, the Center for International Environmental Law created a search database compiling over hundreds of papers that document the decades-long corporate misinformation campaign to derail climate science, available here.
"The big development today," CIEL President Carroll Muffett told teleSUR, "is that the documents clearly suggest that the oil industry invested their research resources into finding alternative factors that would explain climate change, into identifying other pollutants than the exploitation of fossil fuels."
The documents, mainly coming from online resources available after intense research, found that oil companies, including ExxonMobil, have known about the dangers of climate change decades before anyone else and have lead a campaign to suppress climate science and create public doubt about global warming since the 1950s.
Even worse, Muffett highlighted, the documents show they had the technologies available decades ago to cut emissions by half, yet refused to use them "because they are too costly."
Climate-Induced Human Change
As for ExxonMobil (named Humble Oil at the time), CIEL uncovered that the oil giant funded scientists to argue that petroleum products could help control the climate: burning oil on the ground to clear away fog or blow away smog; coating large areas of the earth in asphalt to change rainfall patterns; or using oil slicks on the sea surface or carbon dust sprayed from aircraft to shift or weaken hurricanes.
Muffett strongly encouraged the public to go to the search database and conduct their own research and find new connections that could help answering basic questions like: “What did the oil industry know? When did they know it? And what did they do about it?"
The documents have research significance, he added, but also legal implications, as they can expose the company's deliberate attempts to protect their profits at the expense of the environment and public safety.