Two Democrats in the U.S. House of Representatives have written letters to five public relations and advertising firms, seeking details on their efforts to boost the environmental image of fossil fuel companies.
“The letters come as researchers and climate activists increasingly scrutinize the role of the PR and ad industry in helping fossil fuel companies burnish their environmental reputations and block efforts to slow global warming,” reports The Washington Post’s Climate 202 newsletter.
House Natural Resources Committee Chair Raúl M. Grijalva (D-AZ) and Rep. Katie Porter (D-CA), who leads the panel’s Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations, issued letters to Blue Advertising, DDC Public Affairs, FTI Consulting, Singer Associates, and Story Partners. They also wrote to the American Petroleum Institute, one of the industry’s lead lobby groups.
The letters instruct the firms to provide all documents and communications from their work for the fossil industry from 2013 to present, including invoices for payments from each oil, gas, or coal company, by June 27, Climate 202 writes.
“For decades, fossil fuel companies and associations have engaged in public relations campaigns to downplay the threat of climate change and the central role fossil fuels have played in causing it,” the lawmakers wrote. “These influence campaigns were intended to prevent the country from taking critical steps to address the climate crisis.”
Grijalva and Porter had previously sent similar letters to six organizations that issue PR awards, but have not made public any responses received. Grijalva said the letters were motivated in part by former ExxonMobil lobbyist Keith McCoy, who—in a secretly recorded video released by Greenpeace last year—unwittingly admitted that the colossal fossil sought to undermine U.S. President Joe Biden’s climate agenda.
“Thanks to the accidental truth-telling by the former ExxonMobil lobbyist, we know there is a lot to uncover about the ways fossil fuel companies spread disinformation and lies about climate change,” Grijalva said. “If we’re going to take meaningful action, we need to be armed with facts and science, not industry propaganda. The American people deserve to know the truth and we intend to do our job to find it.”