Congressmen call for investigation into Shell on climate change

 In this Monday, April 7, 2014 file photo, a flag bearing the company logo of Royal Dutch Shell flies outside the head office in The Hague, Netherlands. (AP Photo/Peter Dejong, File)
 (AP Photo/Peter Dejong, File)

Political pressure continues to build around investigating oil companies’ conflicting positions on climate change.

Earlier this week three Democratic Congressmen, Rep. Ted Lieu, of California, Rep. Matt Cartwright, of Pennsylvania, and Rep. Peter Welch, of Vermont, sent a letter to Attorney General Loretta Lynch, calling for an investigation into Shell, the European oil giant which maintains its U.S. headquarters in Houston.

The congressmen cited recent stories by The Los Angeles Times and Inside Climate News about how in 1989 Shell announced it was redesigning an oil platform in the North Sea to account for rising sea levels and worsening storms connected to climate change.

According to the letter, Shell was a member in Global Climate Initiative, a group founded by Exxon that in 1995 raised questions around scientific research that showed the earth was warming.

“The apparent tactics employed by Shell and Exxon are reminiscent of the actions employed by big tobacco companies to deceive the American people about the known risks of tobacco,” the letter read.

Shell did not immediately respond to a request for comment. But the company told the Los Angeles Times, “Shell’s public position on climate change and the challenge CO2 poses is well known and can be documented for over a decade.”

The congressmen join a growing chorus of Democrats, including the likes of Hillary Clinton, Bernie Sanders and Al Gore, calling for an investigation into whether oil companies’ own research and correspondence on climate change differed from their public stance during the 1990s, when climate change science came under attack.

Last year the New York Attorney General launched such an investigation into Exxon Mobil, subpoenaing communications, financial records other documents related to the company’s research and response to climate change, according to a person close to the investigation.

That action followed a story by Inside Climate News about Exxon’s own climate change research in the late 1980s and early 1990s, a program that was eventually shut down.

The attorney general is looking at whether Exxon deceived the public and shareholders in later statements questioning the validity of climate change research.

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