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Who Are the Expert Witnesses Hand Picked by Lamar Smith to Testify on #ExxonKnew Subpoenas?

In July, the chairman of the House Committee on Science, Space, & Technology, Rep. Lamar Smith, issued subpoenas to two state attorneys general who are currently investigating what ExxonMobil knew about climate science, when they knew it, and if the company misled investors. 

The attorneys general of New York and Massachusetts both refused to turn over any information or communications about their investigations. Each AG's office argued the Committee had no authority to issue such a request, calling the subpoenas a violation of states' rights under the 10th amendment.

In a response last month, Smith, a Republican from Texas, announced a hearing to “affirm” that his Committee did have the legal authority to issue such subpoenas. The legal issue the September 14 hearing will address is whether a Congressional committee has subpoena power over state attorneys general and non-profit advocacy organizations. The subpoena was called “an unprecedented effort to target ongoing state law enforcement 'investigations or potential prosecutions'” by Leslie Dubeck, an attorney in the Office of the New York State Attorney General.

Smith has called three legal experts to bolster his claim — two with direct ties to the same Exxon-funded groups who have pushed climate science denial and inaction to cut greenhouse gas emissions.

The Koch and Exxon Funded Think Tanks Supporting, and Being Courted by, Britain’s Brexit Campaigners

Owen Paterson speaking at the Heritage Foundation

The Republican National Convention kicks off this week in Cleveland, Ohio and among the crowd clamouring to see Donald Trump will be one man who crossed the Atlantic to be there: Nigel Farage.

The former head of the UK Independence Party (UKIP) helped lead Britain’s vote to leave the European Union (EU) and is famous for saying last year “I haven’t got a clue whether climate change is being driven by carbon-dioxide emissions.”

But he’s made the trip this week to deliver a message to Republicans that the UK’s vote to leave the EU, or ‘Brexit’, holds lessons for America.

Fracked Gas LNG Exports Were Centerpiece In Promotion of Panama Canal Expansion, Documents Reveal

After nearly a decade of engineering work on the project, the Panama Canal's expansion opened for business on June 26. 

At the center of that business, a DeSmog investigation has demonstrated, is a fast-track export lane for gas obtained via hydraulic fracturing (“fracking”) in the United States. The expanded Canal in both depth and width equates to a shortened voyage to Asia and also means the vast majority of liquefied natural gas (LNG) tankers — 9-percent before versus 88-percent now — can now fit through it. 

Emails and documents obtained under open records law show that LNG exports have, for the past several years, served as a centerpiece for promotion of the Canal's expansion by the U.S. Gulf of Mexico-based Port of Lake Charles.

And the oil and gas industry, while awaiting the Canal expansion project's completion, lobbied for and achieved passage of a federal bill that expanded the water depth of a key Gulf-based port set to feed the fracked gas export boom.

Exxon, Koch Ties May Help Explain Rep. Lamar Smith's Probing Request of "Exxon Knew" Environmental Groups

U.S. Rep. Lamar Smith recently caused a ruckus by targeting environmental groups that are pushing for ExxonMobil to be held accountable for funding climate change denial despite their deep internal corporate knowledge of the role of fossil fuel pollution in global warming. Rep. Smith penned letters to several environmental groups and foundations requesting all of their communications about the ongoing “Exxon Knew” campaign.

Some of the groups and foundations have issued public responses refusing to provide the materials to Smith, who heads up the U.S. House Science, Space, and Technology Committee.

Not yet reported, though, are the extensive ties — monetary and personnel — binding Smith to the crucial corporate funders of climate denial: ExxonMobil and Koch Industries

According to Oil Change International's Dirty Energy Money database, Smith has taken $22,270 in campaign contributions from Exxon since 1998. And OpenSecrets.org data reveals that $19,500 of the Exxon money has flowed to Smith's campaign since 2008 alone. 

OpenSecrets.org data reviewed by DeSmog also shows that Smith has taken $52,000 in campaign contributions from Koch Industries — another key node of the climate denial machine — since 2006.

All told, Lamar Smith — a climate change denier — has received $675,597 from the oil and gas industry since 1998.

How a Senator Turned Exxon Lobbyist Limits Access to His Public University-Based Archives

Emails and documents obtained from Oklahoma State University (OSU) under the state's open records law depict an arrangement in which former U.S. Sen. Don Nickles (R-OK) donated his U.S. Senate papers to OSU, a public university, but still maintains full control of the papers and who gets permission to view them. 

A high-level staffer of Nickles at the time who was arranging the deposit of his records to OSU, GT Bynum — now running for Mayor of Tulsa, Oklahoma — wrote in a November 2004 email that a large part of the rationale for the set-up was “because Senator Nickles is dramatically younger than your average retiring senator” and there exists “potential for…something in the archive which might embarrass the senator, his staff, or a colleague.”

Nickles, now 67 and principal of the lobbying firm Nickles Group, currently lobbies for ExxonMobil, Anadarko Petroleum, Exelon and other companies. He formerly served on the Board of Directors of Chesapeake Energy and currently serves on that of Valero Energy

This year alone, Nickles has lobbied for exports of gas obtained via hydraulic fracturing (“fracking”), expedited permitting for domestic oil and gas and other oil and gas-related policy issues on behalf of those three companies.

Revealed: The Brussels Breakfast Lobby Group Exxon and BP Don’t Want You To Know They’re Part Of

Few people will have heard of AMISA2. And if you have, it's probably only because you're part of it.

The shadowy and little-known Brussels organisation doesn’t even have a website, yet it boasts the likes of Airbus, Google and Michelin as members.  Most corporations paying annual fees don’t declare they take part in the monthly “breakfast debates” that AMISA2 organises.

For 20 years the organisation has led a quiet existence, offering its select group of 18 corporate members direct access to EU decision-makers.

Among them are oil giants ExxonMobil, BP, and Total according to a June 2016 members list provided to DeSmog UK by AMISA2 president Georg Brodach.

IOGCC Representatives Spout Climate Denial at ExxonMobil-Funded Meeting

At the opening session of the Interstate Oil and Gas Compact Commission (IOGCC)'s recent annual business meeting held in Denver, Colorado, the commission's Nebraska state representative Bill Sydow was closing up at the horseshoe-shaped roundtable by making a few heads turn. 

“I spent Thanksgiving in Chicago with my daughter and her two friends and I'm talking about climate change and global warming and I'm not a skeptic, I'm a denier” stated Sydow, the director of Nebraska's Oil and Gas Conservation Commission, flanked by dozens of IOGCC state representatives at the mid-May meeting.

“And so I'm talking to these two kids and they're like 'What are you talking about?' They have never heard another side to the issue.”

Exxon "Chose to Mislead": Granddaughter of Former Exxon Climate Scientist

Anna Kalinsky, the granddaughter of former Exxon climate scientist James Black, has berated the company for bankrolling climate change denial despite her grandfather's attempts to inform the company of the risks of burning fossil fuels for the global climate.

In 1977 my grandfather was a senior scientist at Exxon. He warned Exxon executives that the world was just a few years away from needing to rethink our energy strategy to prevent destructive climate change,” Kalinsky says.

“Instead, Exxon chose to mislead people about the risks of climate change – and continues to mislead people today. The company says they value their scientists and all the work they do, but that’s pretty hard to believe when they continue to fund organizations – both publicly and anonymously – that spread misinformation about the science.”

Kalinsky's comments came during a call with media prior to ExxonMobil's May 25 Annual General Meeting in Dallas, Texas, where shareholders will vote on a number of resolutions pertaining to climate change. 

Kalinsky is slated to address ExxonMobil's executives and speak about her grandfather's scientific findings which were featured in a September investigative article by InsideClimate News.

Oil and Gas Activities Behind Texas Earthquakes Since 1925, Scientists Conclude

If you've felt an earthquake in Texas at any point over the last four decades, odds are that quake wasn't naturally occurring, but was caused by oil and gas industry activities, according to a newly published scientific report.

Just 13 percent of Texas earthquakes larger than magnitude 3 since 1975 were the result of natural causes alone, according to scientists from the University of Texas who published their peer-reviewed paper in the journal Seismological Research Letters.

In recent years, fracking wastewater injection wells have become the primary cause of tremblors in the state, the report adds.

Client Alert: Law Firms Tell Fossil Fuel Companies They Could Be Next in "ExxonKnew" Probe

Some of the country's biggest law firms have recently penned “client alert” memoranda, suggesting to their clients that they closely monitor the ongoing Attorneys General investigations occurring in states nationwide on the potentially fraudulent behavior of ExxonMobil.

DeSmog tracked down alerts written by three different firms: Crowell & Moring, Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman, as well as King & Spalding. All of them have maintained fossil fuel industry clients as well as tobacco industry clients, a DeSmog review has revealed

A previous DeSmog investigation pointed out that Exxon has hired Ted Wells, who represented Philip Morris in Big Tobacco's racketeering lawsuit filed against it by the U.S. Department of Justice, to its legal defense team for the ongoing state AGs' probe.

The AGs' investigation centers around what Exxon knew about climate change and its potential impacts over the past several decades. That's juxtaposed with what the oil giant did about it: funding climate denial to the tune of at least 
$31 million between 1998-2015.

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