Oversight Cmte. Democrat Admits Soon-to-be-Released Anti-Oil and Gas Research Won’t Have Much In It, Likely Won’t “Break Through” with Public
Rep. Ro Khanna (D-Calif.), a top Democrat on the House Oversight and Reform Committee, acknowledged on Thursday that the panel’s year-long investigation into the alleged “disinformation” from the U.S. oil and natural gas industry has turned out to be a massive dud, reporting from E&E News shows.
The Oversight investigation is just one element of a decade-long failed legal campaign against the American energy industry that activists planned out at a 2012 conference in La Jolla, Calif. A central focus of the campaign is obtaining internal company documents – through litigation, congressional subpoena, or other means – as a way to link oil companies to tobacco companies and “delegitimize” energy companies as political actors.
The irony is that much of the documents sought by the committee have been reviewed before – in 2019, a New York state judge ruled in favor of Exxon Mobil in the “climate fraud” case brought by the New York Attorney General against the company. Following “four years of investigation and millions of pages of documents produced by the company,” the case that was once deemed to be “the trial of the century” ended in a decisive loss for the climate litigation campaign.
Failing to Meet Expectations
A year ago, when the investigation kicked off, Rep. Khanna touted that the committee’s work would be “explosive” and “historic.” On several occasions, Rep. Khanna compared his “big oil” investigation to the tobacco investigations of the 1990s, and implied that American energy executives could “meet a similar fate” to the tobacco executives who were the subject of a federal investigation for lying under oath.
Instead, now all that Rep. Khanna is promising is a report that will be released “soon” – likely amid the holidays and with Democrats soon to give up the House majority, and he forecasted that there is nothing of interest in his interview with E&E News, only saying, “We’ve wrapped it up” and, “We got all the documents, we got the testimony.”
According to E&E News, “Khanna acknowledged Wednesday that the Big Oil investigation ultimately won’t have that kind of immediate impact” that the tobacco hearings did.
“‘With Big Tobacco they right away broke through on American public sentiment,’ Rep. Khanna said. ‘I don’t think that we have, candidly, done that yet because the task is much harder on climate and the story was told for the first time.
Khanna nonetheless said he expects the Big Oil probe to be a ‘historic contribution.’
“‘I think our work is of equal significance but not as immediate in breaking through the public consciousness,’ he said.” (emphasis added)
Even the Center for Climate Integrity (CCI), the activist group that conducted an aggressive PR campaign around the committee’s hearing in 2021 and is banking on the report to bolster the climate lawsuits the group is supporting, admitted the investigation has flopped. E&E News reported that CCI President Richard Wiles “acknowledged earlier efforts carried no ‘bombshells.’”
Read the full blog at EIDClimate.org.