Congresswoman Omar blasts oil execs at hearing on their role in climate change: ‘Resign’

"Fossil fuel companies have polluted our air, land and water for profit, despite knowing the devastating impact," Omar said.

Loading the player...

During a hearing Thursday by the House Oversight and Reform Committee, Minnesota Congresswoman Ilhan Omar blasted executives of oil companies, telling them directly that they should resign given their contributions to pollution and spreading disinformation about climate change. 

“Fossil fuel companies have polluted our air, land and water for profit, despite knowing the devastating impact,” she said. “It seems like you all achieved that victory of leading the public with disinformation.”

Minnesota Rep. Ilhan Omar listens during last month’s news conference in Washington, D.C. on the treatment of Haitian immigrants at the Texas-Mexico border. (Photo: Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images)

“I hope that you are ashamed of the future that you contributed for your children and for ours, and I ask all of you to resign,” she added. 

The hearing was called by New York Rep. Carolyn B. Maloney, who invited the executives to Congress to discuss the role the fossil fuel industry played in causing climate change — and “their efforts to cover it up.” 

The hearing featured U.S. Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Suzanne Clark, former Keystone XL Pipeline welding foreman Neal Crabtree, BP CEO David Lawler, American Petroleum Institute President Mike Sommers, Shell Oil President Gretchen Watkins, Chevron CEO Michael Wirth, and Exxon Mobil CEO Darren Woods.

Democrats noted that ExxonMobil, Chevron, Shell and BP have spent a combined $452.6 million on lobbying the federal government against legislation that would cut carbon emissions. However, a report released by Open Secrets noted the companies have only spent 0.17 percent of that amount this year on legislation to reduce carbon emissions.

Further, they spent more than $200 million in lobbying for legislation to lower their taxes. 

Omar was joined in her critique of the oil companies by Missouri Rep. Cori Bush, who added that oil refineries are more likely to be in Black communities than white ones. She noted that their presence in countries like Bangladesh was a continuation of white supremacy. 

“The facts are clear: A 2017 NAACP report found that black Americans are 75% more likely to live next to companies, industrial facilities and services that directly harm us. For years, you promoted fossil fuels despite knowing it is environmental racism and violence in black and brown communities,” Bush said

“You are still promoting and selling fossil fuels that are killing millions of people,” she asserted. “This is a striking example of white supremacy.” 

Omar also targeted their deadly decisions.

“Your profit-driven choices threaten my life, the lives of my family and my neighbors and our community every single day. I sit before you as a black congresswoman with asthma,” she said, “caused by fossil fuels and the tear gas you fund.” She asked Woods, Exxon-Mobil’s leader, if he would send his children to a school near land which had runoff toxins from one of his refineries; he said no.

Omar ended her remarks by saying, “We’re at a tipping point developing fossil fuels now; given the escalation of the climate crisis and its harm to black and brown communities, it is unconscionable. Given each of your roles in these attacks on humanity, you all should resign. Thank you, and I yield back.” 

Have you subscribed to theGrio podcasts “Dear Culture” or “Acting Up?” Download our newest episodes now!
TheGrio is now on Apple TV, Amazon Fire and Roku. Download theGrio.com today!

Loading the player...