House oversight panel postpones Big Oil hearing amid Ukraine crisis

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People walk near the booth of the Exxon Mobil Corp at the Rio Oil and Gas Expo and Conference in Rio de Janeiro

By Valerie Volcovici

WASHINGTON – The House of Representatives oversight panel has postponed its hearing on oil companies’ climate change disinformation due to the crisis in Ukraine but has asked the board members it had invited to testify to turn in documents by the end of next week, a committee staffer told Reuters on Wednesday.

The congressional committee in January invited board members from Exxon Mobil Corp, Royal Dutch Shell Plc, Chevron Corp and BP Plc to testify on Feb. 8 about the industry’s role in climate change and spreading “disinformation” about that role and their proposed solutions.

The committee postponed that hearing to March 8 after none of the board members had been available to testify on the first proposed date but said they were available on other dates. The panel will reschedule the hearing “as soon as possible” as it focuses on oversight of the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

A committee spokesperson said it will hold the board members to the March 8 deadline to turn in relevant documents related to subpoenas issued to the companies’ chief executives after they were grilled in the first of the panel’s hearings on climate disinformation.

“We made clear to the companies last night that the March 8 deadline for producing long-overdue documents in response to our subpoenas remains unchanged,” the spokesperson said by e-mail.  

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Exxon, Shell and BP announced earlier this week that they were ceasing their operations in Russia as a result of its invasion of Ukraine, upending oil supply in the months ahead and driving up oil prices beyond $110 a barrel.

The committee spokesperson said it plans to continue to “aggressively investigate Big Oil’s” role in fueling the climate crisis, especially in light of a report released on Monday by U.N. climate scientists who called for drastic action to respond to worsening climate impacts.

(Reporting by Valerie Volcovici; editing by Jonathan Oatis)