Extreme Temperature Diary- Friday September 17th, 2021/ Main Topic: Probing For The Truth Behind Carbon Polluters

The main purpose of this ongoing blog will be to track planetary extreme or record temperatures related to climate change. Any reports I see of ETs will be listed below the main topic of the day. I’ll refer to extreme or record temperatures as ETs (not extraterrestrials).😉

Main Topic: Probing For The Truth Behind Carbon Polluters

Dear Diary. On the positive side of the climate issue big carbon polluters over the past couple of decades have incurred more and more pressure to change their ways of doing business. Now this pressure is coming from the most powerful body within the U.S. legislative branch of government, which is probing for the truth about when certain corporations knew that their products were causing the Earth’s climate to become unstable.

The ramifications here are big fines and possible imprisonment of fossil fuel company executives, which in my opinion has been a long time coming. For more details here is a New York Times article from this past Thursday:

House Panel Expands Inquiry Into Climate Disinformation by Oil Giants

Executives from Exxon, Shell, BP and others are being called to testify in Congress next month after a secret recording this year exposed an Exxon official boasting of such efforts.

Damage to a New York gas station after Hurricane Ida. The House probe comes after an Exxon official privately described tactics aimed at weakening climate policies. Credit…John Taggart for The New York Times

Hiroko Tabuchi

By Hiroko Tabuchi Sept. 16, 2021

The House Oversight Committee has widened its inquiry into the oil and gas industry’s role in spreading disinformation about the role of fossil fuels in causing global warming, calling on top executives from Exxon Mobil, Chevron, BP and Royal Dutch Shell, as well as the lobby groups American Petroleum Institute and the United States Chamber of Commerce, to testify before Congress next month.

The move comes as Washington is wrestling with major climate legislation intended to slash the nation’s reliance on oil and gas, and in a year of climate disasters that have affected millions of Americans. Raging wildfires in the West burned more than two million acres, one of the strongest hurricanes ever to make landfall in the United States left a path of destruction from Louisiana to New York City, and heat waves smashed records and delivered life-threatening conditions to regions unaccustomed to extreme heat.

Thursday’s demands from the powerful Oversight Committee put senior executives from some of the world’s largest oil companies at the center of an investigation into the role their industry has played in undermining the scientific consensus that the burning of fossil fuels is a root cause of global warming.

“We are deeply concerned that the fossil fuel industry has reaped massive profits for decades while contributing to climate change that is devastating American communities, costing taxpayers billions of dollars, and ravaging the natural world,” read the letter to Darren Woods, the Exxon chief executive.

“We are also concerned that to protect those profits, the industry has reportedly led a coordinated effort to spread disinformation to mislead the public and prevent crucial action to address climate change,” the letter said.

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The letters were sent to the companies and groups Thursday morning, and also requested information including internal documents and emails on climate policy going back to 2015 related to the companies’ and groups’ efforts to undermine climate policy.

Carolyn B. Maloney, a Democrat of New York, and the committee chairman, said she “intends to hold the fossil fuel industry to account for its central role in causing and exacerbating this global emergency.”

Bethany Aronhalt, a spokeswoman for API, a powerful industry voice, said that the group “welcomes the opportunity to testify” and that its priorities were putting a price on carbon, regulating methane, which is a powerful greenhouse gas released in oil and gas production, and “reliably producing American energy.” The API is lobbying Congress against a tax on methane, saying it would prefer federal regulations on emissions.

Representative Carolyn Maloney of New York, the committee chairwoman.Credit…Stefani Reynolds for The New York Times

BP said it was also advocating for policies such as carbon pricing and regulating methane that would help the world meet the goals of the Paris climate agreement, the pact between nations to try to limit global temperature increase to within 1.5 degrees Celsius of 1990 levels.

Matt Letourneau, a spokesman for the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, said the House committee’s leadership had “a fundamental misunderstanding” of the Chamber’s positions on climate change. “We’ve been working hard with members of Congress from both sides of the aisle to enact climate solutions,” he said.

Other recipients of the letters didn’t respond to requests for comment on Thursday.

The inquiry, modeled on the tobacco hearings of the 1990s that paved the way for far tougher nicotine regulations, sets up a showdown between progressive Democrats pressing for action to fight climate change and an industry that faces increasing scrutiny. A wave of lawsuits filed by cities and states across the country has accused oil and gas companies of engaging in decades-long, multimillion-dollar campaigns to downplay warnings from their own scientists about the effects burning fossil fuels has on the climate. And a diverse cast of actors, from environmentalists and children’s rights advocates to corporate shareholders, are pressing the energy giants to diversify away from oil and gas, and reduce their carbon footprints.

The burning of fossil fuels like oil and gas releases carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, where it is a major contributor to global warming because it traps heat. In addition, oil and gas production leads to the release of methane, an even more potent greenhouse gas.

Limiting the global temperature rise to 1.5 degrees Celsius would require the world, among other measures, to immediately stop approving new oil and gas fields, according to a scenario put forward by the world’s leading energy agency. That is a step that no major fossil fuel company has embraced.

The committee had initially focused on Exxon after a senior lobbyist at the oil giant was caught in a secret video recording, made public in July, saying that Exxon had fought climate science through “shadow groups” and had targeted influential senators in an effort to weaken President Biden’s climate agenda. Several of those senators have said the lobbyist exaggerated their relationship or that they had no dealings with him.

Representative Ro Khanna, a Democrat of California who chairs the Subcommittee on the Environment, said the continued lobbying on the Hill by the oil and gas industry makes the October hearings “urgent.”

Industry lobbyists have been working to influence climate provisions in two key pieces of legislation, the $3.5 trillion budget bill and $1 trillion infrastructure bill. After lobbying by groups including the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the House Ways and Means Committee unveiled a draft tax overhaul this week that protects fossil fuel subsidies, rebuffing calls by President Biden to get rid of the incentives, which amount to tens of billions of dollars a year.

“Part of the timing of this is to make sure that they know they’re under a magnifying glass when it comes to any engagement, and running interference, with the climate agenda of Congress and the Senate,” Mr. Khanna said.

In a sign of the divisions within the Democratic Party over the Exxon revelations, Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Democrat of New York and another House Oversight Committee member, wrote on Twitter on Sept. 2 that Senator Joe Manchin of West Virginia “has weekly huddles w/ Exxon & is one of many senators who gives lobbyists their pen to write so-called ‘bipartisan’ fossil fuel bills.”

Asked on Sunday’s television show “State of the Union” if he met weekly with Exxon, Sen. Manchin said “Absolutely not.”

Sen. Manchin didn’t respond to a request for comment Thursday. A spokesman previously said that “Senator Manchin and those who work for him have always had an open-door policy.”

The letters from the oversight committee give the fossil fuel executives a week to say whether they intend to appear before the panel. Depending on the response from the recipients, the committee said that it could take additional steps, including issuing subpoenas.

In the Infrastructure Bill, a Recognition: Climate Change Is a Crisis Aug. 3, 2021

Exxon Misled the Public on Climate Change, Study Says Aug. 23, 2017

Hiroko Tabuchi is an investigative reporter on the climate desk. She was part of the Times team that received the 2013 Pulitzer for explanatory reporting. @HirokoTabuchi • Facebook

Highly related:

Here is more climate and weather news from Friday:

(As usual, this will be a fluid post in which more information gets added during the day as it crosses my radar, crediting all who have put it on-line. Items will be archived on this site for posterity. In most instances click on the pictures of each tweet to see each article. The most noteworthy items will be listed first.)

Now here are some of today’s articles and notes on the horrid COVID-19 pandemic:

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Guy Walton “The Climate Guy”

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