WASHINGTON ― Before national attention turns to the political party conventions, a group of Senate Democrats took to the floor this week to confront the “many-headed dragon” of climate change denial.
The effort, which began Monday, is meant to call out more than 30 different organizations that are “either co-opted or created by the fossil fuel industry in order to propagate climate [change] denial while obscuring the true hand of the fossil fuel industry in their efforts,” Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.), who is leading the effort, told The Huffington Post.
The senators are also hoping to capitalize on attention surrounding the investigation of Exxon Mobil Corp. by several state attorneys general over allegations that its scientists knew about climate change even as the company publicly disputed the science.
Exxon Mobil has denied those allegations, and says probes into the matter violate the company’s free speech rights.
Whitehouse had 17 other senators lined up to speak about climate change on the floor this week. The senators, he said, are all drawing connections between fossil fuel companies and the various think tanks and front groups they have funded.
“It looks like it has a lot of heads, but its all the same beast,” he said.
Whitehouse has been on a lonely Senate crusade to keep the discussion about climate change going ― this week, he’ll deliver his 144th speech on the topic.
Whitehouse, along with fellow Democratic Sens. Ed Markey (Mass.), Brian Schatz (Hawaii), Barbara Boxer (Calif.), Jeff Merkley (Ore.), Elizabeth Warren (Mass.), Al Franken (Minn.), plus Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), also introduced a resolution condemning companies that engaged in a “sophisticated and deceitful campaign that funded think tanks and front groups, and paid public relations firms to deny, counter, and obfuscate peer-reviewed research; and used that misinformation campaign to mislead the public and cast doubt in order to protect their financial interest.”
Rep. Ted Lieu (D-Calif.) introduced a concurrent measure in the House.
The resolution doesn’t call out Exxon Mobil by name, but it urges “fossil fuel companies and allied organizations to cooperate with active or future investigations.”