Washington, D.C. —  Climate activists celebrated the news this morning that the House Oversight Committee has officially launched its investigation into fossil fuel industry disinformation. 

“This is a landmark day in the climate fight,” said Jamie Henn, director of Fossil Free Media. “For decades, the fossil fuel industry has polluted our political process along with polluting our atmosphere. Exposing the industry’s disinformation is a critical step in holding it accountable for the damage it has done and clearing the way for meaningful change. Congressional hearings like these helped end the stranglehold Big Tobacco once had over our political process. They must now do the same for Big Oil.” 

According to a press release from the committee, chairs Rep. Carolyn B. Maloney and Rep. Ro Khanna today “sent letters to the top executives at ExxonMobil Corporation, BP America Inc., Chevron Corporation, Shell Oil Company, American Petroleum Institute, and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, requesting documents on the reported role of the fossil fuel industry in a long-running, industry-wide campaign to spread disinformation about the role of fossil fuels in causing global warming.” 

“This investigation is the beginning of the end of misleading fossil fuel advertising and PR in the United States,” said Duncan Meisel, campaign director for Clean Creatives, which is pressuring PR and ad agencies to stop working with fossil fuel companies. “For too long, this industry has used fake front groups, advanced greenwashing, and straight up deception to delay climate action, every time with the willing help of some of the biggest ad and PR firms in the world. Reps. Khanna and Maloney are following in the footsteps of Congressional investigations that devastated the reputations of tobacco companies and their advertisers. Fossil fuel companies and their agencies are now on notice that they are next.”

Last week, Clean Creatives released a video from Representative Khanna that highlighted the role that PR and ad agencies play in spreading fossil fuel disinformation. 

“You can’t address the climate crisis without addressing climate misinformation,” Khanna said. “A lot of these PR and Ad agencies talk about trust and building trust. They can’t be engaged in propaganda campaigns that are blatantly misleading.”