August 9, 2016

Whitehouse, Schatz Call Out ExxonMobil for Continuing to Fund Effort to Block Climate Action

Senators detail Exxon’s continued funding of groups like ALEC, U.S. Chamber of Commerce

Washington, DC – Today, U.S. Senators Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) and Brian Schatz (D-HI) responded to a letter from ExxonMobil Corporation, which the oil giant had sent to both Senators in the wake of their Web of Denial floor action in July.  In its letter, ExxonMobil made the case that it no longer funds groups that deny the science of climate change and that it supports a carbon fee, like Whitehouse and Schatz’s American Opportunity Carbon Fee Act.

Text of the Senators’ response is provided below.  ExxonMobil’s letter can be found here.

August 9, 2016

Rex W. Tillerson
Chairman and Chief Executive Officer
5959 Las Colinas Boulevard
Irving, Texas 75039-2298

Dear Mr. Tillerson,

We received nearly identical letters from Theresa Fariello, Vice President of ExxonMobil’s Washington Office, about recent Senate floor statements shining a light on a network of shadowy organizations – a web of denial with the purpose to obstruct action on climate change.  ExxonMobil’s prominent role funding the web for decades has been well documented by The Los Angeles TimesInsideClimate News, and others.  Ms. Fariello’s letter attempts to assure us that ExxonMobil now believes climate change is real, that it’s stopped funding climate deniers, and that it has long supported a revenue-neutral carbon fee.  That does not conform with our information and experience. 

In 2015, ExxonMobil funneled millions to groups peddling climate denial.  According to its publicly available 2015 Worldwide Global Giving report, over $1.6 million (20%) of ExxonMobil’s Public Information and Policy Research contributions went to the following organizations discussed during the web of denial floor statements.

  • American Legislative Exchange Council: $61,500
  • American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research: $325,000
  • Hoover Institution: $15,000
  • Hudson Institute: $15,000
  • Manhattan Institute: $200,000
  • Mercatus Center: $25,000
  • U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation: $1,000,000

ALEC’s climate obstructionism is particularly notorious, earning an entire website–—to debunk its work.  When an ExxonMobil official serves on ALEC’s Private Enterprise Advisory Council, and your company is a top sponsor of ALEC’s recent annual meeting in Indianapolis, we find Ms. Fariello’s assurances less than assuring.

Regarding ExxonMobil’s alleged seven years of support for a carbon fee, we’ve seen no meaningful evidence of that.  As authors of the bill or as leaders of our party, we would likely be aware of any such effort.  Senators Whitehouse and Schatz’s American Opportunity Carbon Fee Act meets all the relevant criteria mentioned in the letters, yet ExxonMobil has not endorsed the bill or lobbied our colleagues on its behalf.  Moreover, none of the top executives that make up ExxonMobil’s management team has expressed interest in meeting with any of us to discuss the Whitehouse-Schatz proposal or any carbon fee legislation.  

We find it hard to believe that ExxonMobil’s executives are unaware of the company’s professed support for a carbon fee.  Yet we see no support from the corporation and implacable opposition from your main lobbying groups–the American Petroleum Institute, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, and the various front groups.  The net lobbying position of ExxonMobil is vehemently against the carbon fee you claim to support.  

Fortunately, this double standard is becoming increasingly evident to the public.  We too are put off by this difference between what you say and what we see you do.  But we want to assure you that we are always ready and willing to work with you in good faith on this global threat.  When you are ready to back up your words on climate action with your deeds, we welcome the opportunity to work with you in a sincere and honorable way.  


____________________________                            ____________________________

Sheldon Whitehouse                                                   Brian Schatz

United States Senator                                                 United States Senator


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