A Greenpeace led investigation on Exxon’s climate change lobbying war has revealed how the oil giant has fought against climate change policies in the US. The Exxon lobbyist Keith McCoy – one of its most senior Washington representatives, was recorded on camera explaining details about the company’s actions to stop any political support for climate change mitigation.
Greenpeace’s investigative journalism team posing as headhunters led the conversation with Mr McCoy, who thought he was on a job interview and obtained information from him regarding the matter. Some of the main points made from McCoy in the interview are that Exxon’s support for carbon tax is just a plot and the company does it to appear green.
In fact, the support is underpinned by the conviction that it is not going to happen as according to him: “Nobody is going to propose a tax on all Americans.” McCoy also reveals that Exxon has secretly fought against legislative action on climate change using third-party organisations or so-called “shadow groups”. According to him, they are used by ExxonMobil in order to mask its interests from public view and accountability.
He also said that Exxon aggressively pushed against the climate change science in its early stages to maximize shareholders profits. That is something that he claimed is nothing illegal as the company is reporting about its lobbying activities in the quarterly results.
Regular Contact With Senators
One of the most shocking revelations are the links of Exxon with 11 senators that McCoy mentions by name who have been “critical” to the company’s anti climate change push strategy. Furthermore, as per the FEC data, Senator Manchin has received at least $12,500 from the ExxonMobil Political Action Committee in declared disbursements since the beginning of the 2011-12 election cycle.
The former lobbyist also described the approach to lobbying congressmen as “fishing” in the sense that ExxonMobil puts out “bait” and then “reels in” congressmen on issues like carbon tax, electric vehicles, chemicals, taxation and infrastructure in order to share across its anti-climate law messages.
“I make sure I get them the right information that they need so they look good. And then they help me out. They’re a captive audience. They know they need you. And I need them,” explains McCoy. He also argues that the electric vehicle program in the US is unrealistic as the industry is not able to switch to EVs or wind for electricity.
McCoy also conveys details about the company’s efforts to dilute Biden’s $2 trillion infrastructure plan. He explains the lobbying efforts to lower it to a $800 billion bill including just highways and bridges so that climate change infrastructure gets left out.
“Why would you put in something on emissions reductions on climate change to oil refineries in a highway bill? So, people say yeah that doesn’t make any sense, so then you get to the germane of saying that shouldn’t be in this bill,” he elaborates.
Exxon Climate Change Commitments
ExxonMobil’s chairman and chief executive Darren Woods responded to the interview by saying: “We condemn the statements and are deeply apologetic for them, including comments regarding interactions with elected officials…We were shocked by these interviews and stand by our commitments to working on finding solutions to climate change.”
Regarding the tape, McCoy said on LinkedIn he was “deeply embarrassed by my comments and that I allowed myself to fall for Greenpeace’s deception,” and also apologized to colleagues at the company.
The Greenpeace investigation puts forward pressing issues about how the lobbying efforts of the biggest oil company in the US affect climate change policy direction and overall mitigation results. The biggest highlight is about Exxon’s pro-climate change strategy in the open and anti-climate actions and legislation behind closed doors.
The full investigation video is available here: