In the hallowed halls

Democrats investigate Big Oil. It's getting hot.


Hear the click-clack of cork-soled wingtips through the marble floors of the U.S. Capitol complex. Listen in at committee rooms and pop-up podia. Discover how our duly elected servants, pledged to defend the Constitution, are discharging their solemn duties . . .

Yesterday afternoon, Senate budget committee chair Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.) and Jamie Raskin (D-Md.), the top Democrat on the House oversight committee, stood before an image of the Declaration of Independence announcing a letter to Attorney General Merrick Garland to formally refer their investigation of Big Oil to the Department of Justice “and request that you launch an investigation into the fossil fuel industry’s decades-long history of engaging in deceptive practices.”

“We are writing to share evidence of deceptive and misleading practices by ExxonMobil Corporation (Exxon), Chevron Corporation (Chevron), Shell Oil Company (Shell), BP America (BP), the American Petroleum Institute (API), and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce (the Chamber) that was uncovered during a nearly three-year investigation into the fossil fuel industry’s history of making deceptive claims about its products, their effects on the climate, and its plans to reduce emissions and combat climate change. . . . We believe that there is adequate evidence that fossil fuel industry companies and trade associations may have violated one or more federal statutes.”

As part of their continued campaign of deception, Exxon is sponsoring today’s Politico Power Switch climate newsletter and Chevron is sponsoring today’s Axios Generate newsletter.

Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.) and Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-Md.)

Also yesterday, Energy and Commerce Committee ranking member Frank Pallone (D-N.J.) launched an investigation into seven oil and gas companies for price collusion, after the Federal Trade Commission found that Pioneer CEO Scott Sheffield conspired with OPEC to inflate oil and gas prices. The FTC required Sheffield to step down as part of its approval of Exxon’s acquisition of Pioneer.

And this morning, Whitehouse and Senate Finance Committee Chair Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) sent letters to oil executives seeking information about the “recently reported quid pro quo solicited by former President Donald Trump at an April 11, 2024, fundraising event at the Mar-a-Lago Club, during which Mr. Trump apparently sought financial support for his election in exchange for future policy decisions.”

Those in the room at 2154 Rayburn are watching Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm, dressed like she just won the Masters, discuss energy policy with the House Oversight Committee.

In 1300 Longworth, the House Committee on Agriculture will be marking up the 1000-plus-page farm bill (formally the Farm, Food, and National Security Act of 2024) all day. Republicans are hoping to cut all of the climate programs authorized by the Inflation Reduction Act.

Just down the hall at 1324 Longworth, the Natural Resources Committee’s energy and minerals subcommittee is reviewing the President's FY 2025 budget request for the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement, and the Office of Natural Resources Revenue with the department heads Liz Klein, Kevin Sligh, and Howard Cantor. I can’t say I recommend the sartorial choice of chair Pete Stauber (R-Minn.), who is sporting an ill-fitting, wide-checked blazer.

Over in room 430 of the Dirksen Senate Office Building, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) is leading a markup of several bills, including the East Palestine Health Impact Monitoring Act.

Sploosh! Catch that wee Stickleback

Hearings on the Hill:

Thanks for subscribing and spreading the word. If you’ve got job listings, event listings, or other hot news, I want to hear it. Connect with me—@[email protected], @climatebrad on Threads, and on BlueSky

Join the conversation

or to participate.