Democratic California Rep. Katie Porter stood near her gas-powered minivan while using candy and rice as props during a House hearing on “Big Oil.”
Porter laced into fossil fuel industry officials, using the props to show how much money the companies spend on oil and gas production compared to renewable alternatives and how much federal land they control for drilling. While Porter criticized the executives and their companies, she stood near a gas-powered minivan which she used to carry rice bags for her demonstration.
“When you lobby and sue so that you can take more of our public land, you’re saying too much is never enough,” Porter stated toward the end of her remarks on Thursday. “The American people are tired of this charade.”
The California Democrat was referencing the fossil fuel industry’s opposition to President Joe Biden’s executive order banning all new oil and gas leases on federal land. A federal judge blocked the Biden administration’s action, however, and ordered it to continue leasing federal lands.
During her questioning, Porter held up a grain of rice and said it represented an acre of public land. She then opened her minivan’s trunk, revealing multiple bags of rice which she said depicted the total acreage oil and gas companies controlled for drilling purposes.
“You already have 13.9 million acres. This is equivalent to Maryland and New Jersey combined,” Porter said, raising her voice. “How much more do you need?”
She then opened one of the bags of rice and poured its contents out.
The House Oversight Committee hearing marked the beginning of what Subcommittee on the Environment Chair Ro Khanna said would be a year-long investigation into “Big Oil’s” alleged decades-long disinformation campaign to hide facts about climate change from Americans. Khanna has likened the investigation and hearing to a 1994 probe into tobacco companies led by former Rep. Henry Waxman.
Executives from ExxonMobil, BP America, Chevron, Shell Oil and the American Petroleum Institute, a trade group that represents the fossil fuel industry on Capitol Hill, appeared before the committee Thursday.
Earlier in her questioning, Porter used M&M’s to depict how little Shell Oil had committed to renewable energy compared to fossil fuels. She said the $2-3 billion that Shell said it would put toward renewables and other energy solutions was “green washing.”
“Congresswoman, what I can tell you is that there needs to be both a demand and a supply of clean energy which is why we’re working very closely with our customers so that that demand increases over time,” Shell Oil President Gretchen Watkins responded before Porter interrupted her.
Committee Republicans, meanwhile, criticized Democrats for their behavior during the hearing and repeatedly defended the officials who were called to testify.
“I apologize to our witnesses that were called and asked to take part in this today,” Republican Rep. Pete Sessions said after Porter’s line of questioning. “As chairman of the Rules Committee for six years, I never witnessed nor would have allowed this kind of intimidation that is taking place on people who we invited to come and provide open answers.”
Porter’s office did not immediately respond to the Daily Caller News Foundation’s request for comment on the matter.
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