Senators to Exxon: Stop the Denial

ExxonMobil should stop funding groups that have spread the idea that global warming is a myth and that try to influence policymakers to adopt that view, two senators said today in a letter to the oil company.

In their letter to ExxonMobil chairman and CEO Rex Tillerson, Sens. Olympia Snowe, R-Maine, and Jay Rockefeller, D-W.Va., appealed to Exxon's sense of corporate responsibility, asking the company to "come clean about its past denial activities."

The two senators called on ExxonMobil to "end any further financial assistance" to groups "whose public advocacy has contributed to the small but unfortunately effective climate change denial myth."

Phone calls to ExxonMobil were not immediately returned to ABC News.

An upcoming study from the Union of Concerned Scientists reported that ExxonMobil funded 29 climate change denial groups in 2004 alone. Since 1990, the report said, the company has spent more than $19 million funding groups that promote their views through publications and Web sites that are not peer reviewed by the scientific community.

The senators singled out the Competitive Enterprise Institute, a Washington think tank, and the Tech Central Station Web site as beneficiaries of Exxon's efforts to sow doubt within the public about the scientific consensus behind global warming.

"We are convinced that ExxonMobil's long-standing support of a small cadre of global climate change skeptics, and those skeptics' access to and influence on government policymakers, have made it increasingly difficult for the United States to demonstrate the moral clarity it needs across all facets of its diplomacy," the letter said.

The letter said ExxonMobil's efforts to confuse haven't worked everywhere.

"It has failed miserably in confusing, much less convincing, the legitimate scientific community," the senators wrote.

The letter comes as dozens of major U.S. companies, including Wal-Mart, Citigroup and GE -- get set to gather in New York next week for the Corporate Climate Response conference. The conference provides a forum for companies to discuss their efforts to address global warming, a topic getting increased attention in boardrooms across the United States.

This week, investment bank Morgan Stanley announced it would invest $3 billion in carbon emission credits and other projects aimed at reducing greenhouse gas emissions over the next five years.

And last month, British mogul Richard Branson pledged $3 billion over 10 years -- profits from his airline and train companies -- to invest in energy sources that do not contribute to global warming.

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