Legal Operations » Exxon “Greenwashes” Its Image with Industry-wide Carbon Capture Proposal

Exxon “Greenwashes” Its Image with Industry-wide Carbon Capture Proposal


ExxonMobil has been the prime target of activists and politicians angered by the oil industry’s efforts to block action on climate change. Newly disclosed documents confirm that Exxon’s reputational woes have extended into the industry itself and threatened to derail its biggest climate proposal to date. According to documents released by the House Committee on Oversight and Reform, last year Exxon proposed a $100 billion cross-industry public-private partnership to build the world’s largest carbon capture and storage hub in Houston. Top executives at the major oil companies initially worried that joining Exxon would present an “unacceptable risk” to their reputations. Ultimately, the effort won the support of 11 companies. A joint statement released in September 2021 was the “first step” of an industry campaign to secure an expanded federal tax credit for carbon capture and new regulations that would allow companies to inject carbon dioxide beneath the Gulf of Mexico. The House committee, which has been investigating the oil industry’s alleged campaign to spread disinformation about climate change, included in the released documents a memo stating that the documents “demonstrate how the fossil fuel industry ‘greenwashed’ its public image with promises and actions that oil and gas executives knew would not meaningfully reduce emissions, even as the industry moved aggressively to lock in continued fossil fuel production for decades to come.”

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