#WebOfDenial: Senators to Call Out Big Oil's Blockade of Climate Action

July 12, 2016
In The News

More than a dozen U.S. senators are launching a campaign to call out the powerful industry of climate denial and demanding Congress take action against the back-door blockading of environmental policy that they are calling the #WebOfDenial.

Sens. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.), Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), Jeff Merkeley (D-Ore.), Al Franken (D-Minn.), Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.), Ed Markey (D-Mass.), and Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii) on Monday introduced a resolution (pdf) condemning "efforts of corporations and groups to mislead the public about the harmful effects of tobacco, lead, and climate" and urging "fossil fuel corporations and their allies to cooperate with investigations into their climate-related activities."

The senators will take to the Senate floor on Monday and Tuesday to call out the influential groups and individuals like the right-wing Koch brothers, ExxonMobil, and Donors Trust, among other entities, for creating what they describe as "a massive campaign to deceive the public about climate change to halt climate action and protect their bottom lines."

In addition to funding decades-long climate denial—a coverup first exposed in 2015 byInsideClimate News and the Los Angeles Times—these "interconnected groups" also misled the public about the harmful effects of tobacco and lead, the senators say. They will promote their floor action with the hashtags #WebOfDenial and #TimeToCallOut.

A similar resolution is being introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives this week by Rep. Ted Lieu (D-Calif.), who has led the charge for a federal investigation into Exxon's actions.

Environmental advocates applauded the announcement on Monday. Jamie Henn, communications director for 350.org, said it was "inspiring to see Senators join the movement to hold the likes of Exxon accountable for their decades of deception."

"Big Oil robbed us of a generation's worth of climate action, and to this day are still sowing doubt and misinformation—prioritizing profit at the expense of our climate and communities," Henn said. "The last 14 consecutive months have been the hottest on record, making it ever more pressing for our elected officials to bring this extensive web of climate denial to light."