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EU Parliament rejects bid to strip Exxon lobbyists of access

PTI Strasbourg (France) | Updated on April 17, 2019 Published on April 17, 2019

The European Parliament on Tuesday rejected a move to strip ExxonMobil lobbyists of their access badges after the US oil giant missed the assembly’s first hearing into claims it knowingly misled the public on climate change.

The parliament’s secretary general Klaus Welle “found no grounds to seek authorisation to withdraw or de-activate ExxonMobil’s access badges, given the absence of formal summons to attend the hearing,” according to a copy of his decision obtained by AFP.

Welle invited parliament administrators known as quaestors not to take any action and they agreed, according to a copy of an email the Greens Party had with the quaestors. After last month’s hearing, Greens deputy Molly Scott Cato asked the parliament to deny ExxonMobil, the world’s largest publicly traded oil firm, its handful of registered access badges.

“I’m deeply disappointed that ExxonMobil will continue to have the right (to) haunt the corridors of the Parliament, spreading their disinformation about climate change and blocking the action we need to take to protect the planet for future generations,” Scott Cato said. Her party lamented that ExxonMobil was saved by a “technicality” because Welle viewed parliament’s email to Exxon as “exploratory” to check the firm’s availability rather than a formal summons to the hearing.

“If we want a real democracy in Europe, the Parliament needs to show that it is serious when it organises public hearings on important issues,” Cato said in a statement. “We need to produce a legally watertight official invitation, issue it to Exxon, and let them make a choice being accountable and keeping out of the Parliament.” Under parliamentary rules, lobbyists can have their access badges denied when they refuse without good reason to comply with a formal summons to attend a committee hearing.

The Greens said ExxonMobil has six access badges, but Welle said it had five badges. In a letter to parliament before the hearing, ExxonMobil said it was “constrained from participating because of ongoing climate litigation in the United States.” The oil firm was concerned that public commentary, including at the Brussels hearing, “could prejudice those pending proceedings.” Testifying at the hearing, Harvard University researcher Geoffrey Supran referred to a peer-reviewed study in which he and colleagues contrasted ExxonMobil’s public and private stances.

The study referred to private company memos where Exxon had acknowledged for decades that global warming was real and caused by humans. Yet, the study said hundreds of paid Exxon editorials in US newspapers cast doubt on the cause. ExxonMobil has repeatedly rejected what it calls the “false allegation that ExxonMobil suppressed scientific research on climate change.”

Published on April 17, 2019
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