What’s next for the Democrats’ Big Oil investigation?

By Emma Dumain | 05/02/2024 06:09 AM EDT

House and Senate Democrats say their best bet is to win the elections.

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

Senate Budget Chair Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.) greeting House Oversight and Accountability ranking member Jamie Raskin (D-Md.) before a hearing Wednesday on the oil industry and climate change. Francis Chung/POLITICO

Congressional Democrats this week achieved what environmental advocates have been waiting to see for nearly a year and a half: the continuation of a stalled House probe into decades of alleged climate deception by Big Oil.

Senate Budget Chair Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.) convened a hearing Wednesday to spotlight thousands of pages of documents released just 24 hours earlier — holdovers from the trove of materials House Oversight Committee Democrats obtained through an investigation in the last Congress, when they still controlled the chamber.

The private memos, internal papers and email exchanges from six major companies and their trade associations — Exxon Mobil, Chevron, BP, Shell, the American Petroleum Institute and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce — laid out in stark relief the lengths to which oil and gas boosters have worked to appear climate friendly while doubling down on policies critics say are anything but.


Whitehouse painted the hearing — centered on the documents and a report — in the context of needing to stop a powerful force that is actively thwarting climate action, with global warming wreaking “shocks” all across the economy.