House Democrats investigating public relations firms that represent fossil fuel companies came under heavy criticism Wednesday for trying to muzzle political enemies while ignoring misinformation being peddled by the left.
Democrats on the House Natural Resources Oversight Subcommittee have taken aim at consultants who provide ad and strategy campaigns to oil and gas companies, saying their efforts are hampering action on climate change.
Republican lawmakers accused the panel of crippling free speech.
“Let’s just just say what we’re talking about today: that it’s okay for environmental groups to publish a story or a narrative and create a script…but American energy companies can’t tell their story,” said Representative Blake Moore, Republican of Utah. “You can’t have both. Today’s hearing is all about not even looking at the misinformation or stories we’ve seen from environmental groups.
Representative Jody Hice, Republican of Georgia, called the hearing “totally bogus, totally hypocritical.” Rep. Lauren Boebert, a Republican from Colorado, accused Democrats of labeling arguments that run counter to “progressive orthodoxy” misinformation or misinformation.
“I really just want to know why the committee isn’t issuing subpoenas for PR firms that offer support to the climate change lobby like the Sierra Club,” Ms Boebert told the audience on “The Role of Public Relations Firms in Preventing Action on Climate Change”.
SEE ALSO: Biden vows to make electric vehicles more accessible, despite predictions of manufacturing job losses
The hearing is accompanied Committee initiate the subpoena process for FTI Consulting after the company rejected the panel’s request to provide information about its public relations work and clients, including their names and the number of people the company serves .
The Committee also requested “all documents” from Story Partners, DDC Advocacy, Blue Advertising and Singer Associates related to their work for oil, gas and coal companies and related trade associations.
Speaker of the House of Natural Resources Raul Grijalva defended the inquiry saying that the climate change debate must take place on “common ground, and that common ground for me is the fact, c is science”.
“Today’s discussion is not about ending gas and energy access for the American people, but about exposing and finding truth in advertising from lighting to the gas that Big Oil and Big Gas are doing to the American people through public relations, not just corporate, but specific strategies,” the Arizona Democrat said.
Christine Arena, CEO of marketing agency Generous Ventures, said popular industry tactics include delegitimizing the opposition, creating “fake grassroots organizations” that echo the talking points of the industry and “greenwashing” or the promotion of a company’s environmental record.
“We do not object to the fact that these companies communicate. We oppose the way they communicate and the strategies and tactics they use,” Ms Arena said.
Mr. Hice backed down by opposing the tactics of the Democratic majority. He referred to documents showing that Fossil Free Media sent an email on August 17 regarding FTI Consulting’s subpoena threat, time-stamped two hours before the committee announced it.
Ms Arena, whose group is part of the Fossil Free Media campaign, acknowledged that she had been told of the threat of subpoena in advance, saying: “Yes, I was told it might to arrive”.
Hice also said Clean Creatives, a public relations project backed by Fossil Free Media, released a committee report on Tuesday, “The Role of Public Relations Firms in Preventing Action on Climate Change,” a day before the committee does.
“We have Clean Creatives once again working with the majority, getting information before anyone else, getting subpoena information before anyone gets it, getting reports before anyone gets it,” said Mr Hice. “It’s just absolute madness what’s going on here, and the real investigation should be on this type of collaboration.”
Colorado climate activist Anne Lee Foster said signature collectors were tracked and harassed by opponents during the 2018 campaign. country for an anti-fracking measure, Proposition 112, which was ultimately rejected.
“It’s a far cry from the kind of typical image promotion or ads that we think of with PR firms,” said Rep. Katie Porter, Democrat of California. “These unethical practices, these unethical public relations ventures are often most effective at the local level, where powerful corporate interests can overwhelm local communities.”
I’m glad we’re moving on today to talk about dishonesty. Let’s be clear about who is misleading the American people – the Biden administration.
The data doesn’t lie and the facts show that the Biden administration’s energy policy is hurting everyone and everything. pic.twitter.com/scZNsMJIbE
— Rep Garret Graves (@RepGarretGraves) September 14, 2022
Rep. Garret Graves, Republican of Louisiana, said if anyone should be called out for spreading climate misinformation, it’s President Biden, given rising energy prices and emissions during his tenure.
“I can’t say it enough. I’m glad we’re talking about deceiving the American people because we have the main deceiver telling the American people that these policies work and they don’t,” Graves said.
The House Oversight and Reform Committee is set to address the issue at a Thursday hearing titled “Fueling the Climate Crisis: Examining Big Oil’s Prices, Profits, and Pledges.”