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Exxon Says NYT Distorted The Company’s History On Carbon Taxes

Meg Bell (R) holds a banner during a protest before the start of the Exxon Mobil Corporation Shareholders Meeting in Dallas, Texas, May 28, 2008. REUTERS/Mike StoneMeg Bell (R) holds a banner during a protest before the start of the Exxon Mobil Corporation Shareholders Meeting in Dallas, Texas, May 28, 2008. REUTERS/Mike Stone

One of Exxon Mobil’s chief executives said Saturday the company lobbied hard for carbon taxes in 2009 despite what The New York Times claimed earlier this week.

Exxon has repeatedly made its position clear regarding carbon taxes, Suzanne McCarron, the oil company’s vice president of governmental affairs, wrote in a letter to The NYT editorial board. She was responding to a NYT article published Wednesday arguing the company “has done little or nothing to help put carbon taxes into effect.”

The company supports a carbon tax, she added, because it would allow the market to find solutions to climate change, as well as maximize transparency for the company’s stakeholders.

“We have expressed our position on climate change — that the risk is real and requires action — on many occasions to many audiences,” McCarron wrote in an effort to rebut any implications that the company sat on its laurels during congressional debates about carbon taxes.

Exxon repeatedly made clear the company’s position in more than 300 briefings in 2015 alone, she added, including letters to Congress and in various media interviews over the past eight years.

McCarron’s piece comes on the heels of various investigations by attorneys general and environmentalists into the company’s supposed history of hiding its knowledge about climate change from investors.

The reportage showing the supposed subterfuge was bankrolled in part by the Rockefeller Family Fund (RFF), a billionaire group set up by the lineage of oil baron John D. Rockefeller. Every one of the anti-Exxon voices the NYT used in its piece have received, in one way or another, financial backing from RFF.

One such voice was Kert Davies, who has spent years obsessing over Exxon’s internal documents. The former Greenpeace researcher told the paper that the company’s move toward carbon taxes was “all P.R.”

Davies attended a strategy meeting at the Rockefeller Family Fund offices earlier this year that was meant “to establish in the public’s mind that Exxon is a corrupt institution.”

Peter Frumhoff, the director of science and policy at the Union of Concerned Scientists, was instrumental in briefing Attorneys General Eric Schneiderman and Maura Healey ahead of a March press conference announcing the latter’s investigation of Exxon.

Frumhoff also told the Times that Democrats should turn confirmation hearings for President-elect Donald Trump’s secretary of state pick — Exxon CEO Rex Tillerson — into a public trial on Exxon’s history of climate research.

He also said that Exxon’s policies under Tillerson’s leadership showed the company only supports policy ideas like carbon taxes when it’s expedient for its bottom line.

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Chris White
the authorChris White
Energy Reporter

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