Whitehouse, Lieu Call on American Geophysical Union to Reconsider Accepting Funding from ExxonMobil

The Democrat persecution of Exxon continues.

The media release and letter are below.

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Whitehouse, Lieu Call on American Geophysical Union to Reconsider Accepting Funding from ExxonMobil
Senator and Congressman question ExxonMobil’s support for a carbon tax

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Washington, DC –Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) and Congressman Ted Lieu (D-CA) have sent a letter to Dr. Margaret Leinen, President and Chair of the American Geophysical Union (AGU), calling on the organization to reexamine its decision to continue accepting funds from fossil fuel giant ExxonMobil.

“We have tremendous respect for the American Geophysical Union (AGU) and are grateful for all the support AGU has provided both to scientists and to policymakers, such as us. That support has enabled major scientific advances throughout the scientific endeavor,” write Whitehouse and Lieu.

The members continue, “We have been following the process by which AGU evaluated whether to continue accepting money from ExxonMobil (EM), and are disappointed by the board’s decision to continue doing so. We are particularly concerned you didn’t consider two important things: (1) publicly available EM documents and (2) a key component of AGU’s organizational support policy (OSP). We urge you to reconsider the decision.”

In the letter, Whitehouse and Lieu point out that ExxonMobil’s recent funding of organizations that publicly promote misinformation about climate change is inconsistent with AGU’s organizational support policy and in direct opposition to AGU’s position statement that climate change is real and requires urgent action. In addition, Whitehouse and Lieu explain that ExxonMobil is saying one thing while doing another regarding its supposed support for a carbon tax, considering the company—and trade associations that represent it—spent tens of millions of dollars on obstructive climate lobbying in 2015.

The full text of the letter follows:

May 6, 2016

Dr. Margaret Leinen

President and Chair of the Board

American Geophysical Union

2000 Florida Ave., NW

Washington, DC 20009

Dear Dr. Leinen,

We have tremendous respect for the American Geophysical Union (AGU) and are grateful for all the support AGU has provided both to scientists and to policymakers, such as us. That support has enabled major scientific advances throughout the scientific endeavor.

We have been following the process by which AGU evaluated whether to continue accepting money from ExxonMobil (EM), and are disappointed by the board’s decision to continue doing so. We are particularly concerned you didn’t consider two important things: (1) publicly available EM documents and (2) a key component of AGU’s organizational support policy (OSP). We urge you to reconsider the decision.

First, the documents. In Dr. Leinen’s letter to AGU members explaining the board’s decision, she said you evaluated whether EM’s current actions are inconsistent with AGU’s policy against accepting support from entities that promote science misinformation, either directly or indirectly by funding other organizations. She went on to say the Board “concluded that it is not possible for [AGU board members] to determine unequivocally whether EM is participating in misinformation about science currently, either directly or indirectly.”

EM gave money as recently as 2014 to several organizations that cast doubt on climate change, so we are surprised at AGU’s conclusion. According to EM’s most recent Worldwide Giving and Community Investments report, in 2014, EM funded several organizations that publicly promote misinformation of science, including:

American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) ($61,500): ALEC has promoted model legislation with a finding that human-induced global warming “may lead to deleterious, neutral, or possibly beneficial climatic changes.”[1]
Hoover Institution ($50,000 to its Arctic Security Initiative): Hoover Senior Fellow Terry Anderson, who is not a climate scientist, argued that climate data since 1880 supports a conclusion that it would take as long as 500 years to reach 4 °C of global warming.[2]
Manhattan Institute of Policy Research ($100,000 to its Center for Energy Policy): Institute Senior Fellow Robert Bryce stated, “The science is not settled, not by a long shot…. If serious scientists [at the European Organization for Nuclear Research] can question Einstein’s theory of relativity, then there must be room for debate about the workings and complexities of the Earth’s atmosphere. Furthermore, even if we accept that carbon dioxide is bad, it’s not clear exactly what we should do about it.”[3]
National Black Chamber of Commerce ($75,000): Chamber President and CEO Harry Alford stated, “[NOAA and NASA] have reported that there has been no global warming detected for the last 18 years. That is over 216 months in a row that there has been no detected global warming…. Scientists, as well as NOAA and NASA, call this state of no warming a ‘Global Pause.’ How long it will last no one predicts. For all we know it may last another 20 years or even forever.”[4]
Pacific Legal Foundation ($10,000): A senior attorney at Pacific Legal Foundation attacked EPA’s authority to regulate CO2 because it is a “ubiquitous natural substance essential to life on Earth.”[5]
We have seen no evidence to indicate EM’s behavior has changed since 2014.

EM always trumpets its work related to the development of climate science, but never comments on its decades-long history of providing financial support to organizations that publicly promote misinformation of science. That EM conducts legitimate research is not a defense for EM’s continued support for these organizations. EM can’t have it both ways.

Second, AGU’s policy. A component of AGU’s OSP – “the public statement(s) of our organizational partners shall not directly oppose those of AGU” – seems to have been absent from the Board’s decision-making process. Since 2003, AGU has been on record stating not just that human-induced climate change is real, but that we can adopt policies to avoid some of the worst outcomes we face. AGU’s “Human-Induced Climate Change Requires Urgent Action” states:

Humanity is the major influence on the global climate change observed over the past 50 years. Rapid societal responses can significantly lessen negative outcomes… While important scientific uncertainties remain as to which particular impacts will be experienced where, no uncertainties are known that could make the impacts of climate change inconsequential.

This public position cannot be reconciled with the positions taken by the groups EM funds and the trade associations that represent it. EM’s position on pricing carbon makes this point. In a recent ClimateWire interview with Dr. Leinen about the Board’s decision to continue accepting money from EM, she cited “[EM’s] support [of] a carbon tax as their particular favorite mechanism for dealing with the consensus to decrease carbon dioxide” as evidence that EM’s position on climate change has evolved.

We can attest that Exxon’s purported support for a carbon tax is not real. It is impossible to reconcile EM’s stated support for a revenue-neutral carbon tax with the lobbying activities of EM and the trade associations that claim to represent EM on the Hill. What we see in Congress is that their lobbying efforts are 100 percent opposed to any action on climate. According to a recent report from the nonprofit research organization InfluenceMap, EM spent $27 million on obstructive climate lobbying in 2015. It also shows the American Petroleum Institute (API) and the Western States Petroleum Association – two industry trade groups to which EM belongs – spent a combined $71 million on obstructive climate lobbying in 2015. This money deluge includes advertising and public relations, direct lobbying here in Congress and in state capitals, and political contributions and electioneering.

Additionally, in 2014, EM gave the U.S. Chamber of Commerce $1 million, yet the Chamber’s climate message, delivered loud and clear not only here in Congress but in the courts, is one of absolute intransigence against any serious climate action. Along with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, other trade associations to which EM belongs (e.g., American Fuel & Petrochemical Manufacturers and the American Chemistry Council (ACC)), and organizations EM funds (e.g., Pacific Legal Foundation) are challenging the Administration’s Clean Power Plan in court. And, the U.S. Chamber, ACC, and Natural Gas Supply Association are publicly trying to kill the methane standards from new oil and gas sources the Administration is finalizing.

Enclosed is a recent article in the Harvard Business Review in which Senator Whitehouse describes our reality. API, the Chamber of Commerce, and other EM trade associations are dead set against Congress doing anything serious about climate change. Their power in Congress is fully dedicated to stopping any serious climate legislation, and we see their hostility everywhere.

It is sadly not unheard of in legislative matters for an interest group to take a public position, but then flex its mighty lobbying and political muscle against that very position. As Members of Congress we wanted to warn you not to take the EM “position” on a carbon price at face value. It is false.

Last December, Representatives Lieu, Welch, and 43 other Representatives sent a letter to EM asking whether EM is “continuing to fund misinformation regarding climate science either directly or through third parties.” As you can see from the enclosed EM response, EM never denies that it continues to promote misinformation or funds organizations that do. Instead of answering straightforward questions, EM promotes its reputable climate research, alleges the outlets that have reported on EM’s misdeeds are the ones misleading the public, credits natural gas as the main reason carbon dioxide emissions have dropped, and expresses its “support” for a carbon fee.

You have been fooled. Whatever position AGU chooses to take, you should not take it based on self-serving representations by ExxonMobil.

Sincerely,

Sheldon Whitehouse Ted Lieu

United States Senator Member of Congress

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[1] “Interstate Research Commission on Climatic Change Act.” Model Policy. ALEC, 28 Jan. 2013. Web. 27 Apr. 2016.

[2] Anderson, Terry. “Climate Change and Human Ingenuity.” Publications. Hoover Institution, 10 Sep. 2015. Web. 27 Apr. 2016.

[3] Bryce, Robert. “Five Truths About Climate Change.” Commentary. Wall Street Journal, 6 Oct. 2011. Web. 27 Apr. 2016.

[4] Alford, Harry. “Global Warming Proponents Cling to Costly Farce.” Commentary. Philadelphia Tribune, 4 Nov. 2015. Web. 27 Apr. 2016.

[5] Henneke, Robert. “Texas Public Policy Foundation & Pacific Legal Foundation File Amicus Brief on Clean Power Plan.” Press Resources. Texas Public Policy Foundation, 23 Feb. 2016. Web. 27 Apr. 2016.

One thought on “Whitehouse, Lieu Call on American Geophysical Union to Reconsider Accepting Funding from ExxonMobil”

  1. Exxon Mobil should ask for its money back from Stanford, $100 million plus and all the other monies given to climate establishments and green groups.

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