7 Jul 2021

ExxonMobil will have to answer the American public, says Democratic congressman

ExxonMobil executives will be forced to testify in Congress after “bombshell” footage broadcast by Channel 4 News exposed the company’s lobbying tactics in the US, this programme has been told.

Democrat Rep Ro Khanna of California said a hearing will be held in Congress, where executives from the oil and gas giant “will show up” and  “will have to answer” the elected representatives’ questions on their lobbying tactics.

Asked if he would subpoena the executives if they refused to show up, Rep Khanna said his team was prepared to do “whatever it takes” to bring them in.

Last week, Channel 4 News exclusively broadcast undercover footage, obtained by Greenpeace UK’s investigations unit Unearthed, in which an ExxonMobil senior lobbyist revealed how the company used its power and influence to water down US climate legislation.

The lobbyist, Keith McCoy, also alleged the company regarded trade bodies like the American Petroleum Institute as “whipping boys” in order to avoid public scrutiny on Capitol Hill.

ExxonMobil’s chief executive apologised for the lobbyist’s statements, but added that he was not involved in developing the company’s policy on the issues.

‘Whatever it takes’

Congressman Khanna, who chairs the Oversight Subcommittee on Environment, told Channel 4 News he was “appalled” by the revelations in our report, adding that it has “reverberated across the capital”.

He said invitations were being sent to ExxonMobil executives to invite them to answer questions in Congress.

Asked what he would do if they rejected the request, he said: “We expect them to voluntarily comply, but let me just say we’re prepared to do whatever it takes to have them come in. They’re not going to be able to evade Congress.”

He added: “Your bombshell video makes it even more urgent. They need to answer questions, McCoy needs to answer questions.

“Is this standard practice? Have they engaged in shadow disinformation campaigns? Was he being instructed by Exxon senior executives or was he acting on his own?

“There are a lot of unanswered questions, we will get to the bottom of this.”