ExxonMobil Corp. is blaming the news media and environmental activists for deliberately misleading the public about its climate research.
In the past couple of weeks, reports in the Los Angeles Times and InsideClimate News have claimed that ExxonMobil for years had hidden research about the effects of oil and gas development on climate change. However, the publications "ignored evidence provided by the company of continuous and publicly available climate research that refutes their claims," said ExxonMobil's Ken Cohen, vice president of public and government affairs.
The stories have led to "political attacks" and calls for investigations by Sens. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) and Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), as well as California Reps. Ted Lieu and Mark DeSaulnier, both Democrats.
"For nearly 40 years we have supported development of climate science in partnership with governments and academic institutions, and did and continue to do that work in an open and transparent way," Cohen said. The publications had "deliberately cherry-picked statements...to wrongly suggest definitive conclusions were reached decades ago by company researchers."
The potential risks of climate change have been taken "very seriously" by the oil major, it said. ExxonMobil "embarked on decades of research in collaboration with many parties, including the Department of Energy, leading academic institutions such as the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Stanford University and others to advance climate science."
Thirteen years ago the company led a collaborative effort with major corporations to study carbon dioxide emissions (see Daily GPI, Nov. 21, 2002). In 2009, Forbes Magazine named ExxonMobil its "green company of the year" (see Daily GPI, Aug. 17, 2009).
Longtime CEO Lee Raymond, who retired in 2005, was known for making light of activist shareholders who urged more insight into how the company's oil and gas production was impacting climate change (see Daily GPI, Aug. 5, 2005). Current CEO Rex Tillerson, however, has acknowledged the impact energy development has on the earth's temperatures.
Since 2009, Tillerson also has advocated a revenue-neutral carbon tax as the preferred policy approach for emissions reduction (see Daily GPI, Oct. 8).