Public reporting has shown that API and its members knew about the dangers posed by their fossil fuel products for decades, but coordinated and engaged in a widespread campaign of deception to protect their profits.

API now faces lawsuits from two states and four municipalities that are seeking to hold the trade association accountable for deceiving the public about the central role that fossil fuels play in climate change. 

API representatives have previously testified before Congress as  a deliberate tactic to provide cover for its individual oil and gas company members, according to a senior Exxon lobbyist:  “We don’t want it to be us, to have these conversations, especially in a hearing,” said Keith McCoy, in a leaked 2021 interview. “It’s getting our associations to step in and have those conversations and answer those tough questions and be for, the lack of a better term, the whipping boy for some of these members of Congress.”



The American people deserve answers, and as API’s President, Sommers must testify. Here is just some of the evidence that members of the House Oversight Committee should ask him to explain:

API Led Early Efforts to Study Climate Change and Predicted “Globally Catastrophic Events”

  • In 1965, API President Frank Ikard warned the trade association’s annual meeting that carbon dioxide emissions from the burning of fossil fuels could cause “marked changes in climate” and that the problem was so serious that alternative fuels were likely to become a “national necessity.”

  • API funded high-level research into the issue, including a 1968 report by the Stanford Research Institute that concluded “there seems to be no doubt the potential damage to our environment could be severe.”

  • A 1980 report prepared for API’s C02 and Climate Task Force warned of “globally catastrophic events” resulting from the continued burning of fossil fuels. 

API Disavowed its Early Knowledge and Coordinated the Industry’s Campaign to Discredit Climate Science and Prevent Action

  • In a 1996 letter to the White House, API dismissed “statements that we face catastrophic consequences if emissions are not reduced” as “inconsistent with the current state of climate science” — in direct contradiction to the industry’s own findings.

  • That same year, a book published by API argued that “no conclusive—or even strongly suggestive— scientific evidence exists that human activities are significantly affecting sea levels, rainfall, surface temperatures or the intensity and frequency of storms,” in direct contradiction of the scientific consensus at the time and with their own scientific findings from years before.

  • In 1998, API prepared a multimillion dollar communications plan for the oil and gas industry with a stated goal to sow uncertainties about climate science among the public and “those (e.g., Congress) who chart the future U.S. course on global climate change.” According to the document, “Victory Will Be Achieved When…  Average citizens ‘understand’ (recognize) uncertainties in climate science; recognition of uncertainties becomes part of the ‘conventional wisdom.’”... and when those who support the international climate agreement, the Kyoto Protocol, are seen as being “out of touch with reality.”

  • After President Obama’s inauguration in 2009, API’s CEO claimed, “We intend to be part of the solution and look forward to a continuing dialogue on meeting this global challenge.” However, the association proceeded to run ads, organize rallies, and spend millions lobbying to successfully block climate legislation.

API Falsely Depicts Itself As Committed to Climate Solutions

  • While API now claims to “support global action that drives greenhouse gas emissions reductions and economic development,” they continue to provide misleading information to soften or even block climate action.  Their strategy has evolved from outright climate denial to a savvier approach of “greenwashing” ad campaigns, ranging from a Super Bowl ad to website articles such as “Five Ways We’re Helping to Cut Greenhouse Gas Emissions.” 

  • API’s “We’re on it” campaign claims that “America’s natural gas and oil companies are … leading the world in cutting greenhouse gas emissions to their lowest levels in a generation.” The association asserts that increased use of natural gas is the “number one” reason CO2 emissions have declined. But this claim excludes methane emissions and undercounts the contributions of renewables or energy efficiency, which an analysis by Oil Change International calculates together are responsible for 68.1% of emission reductions. Further, recent science indicates that when methane leaks are taken into account, natural gas's impact on the climate is likely equivalent to coal. Rolling back emission standards was also a top policy priority for API during the Trump administration.

API Has Historically Done the Dirty Lobbying Work for the Oil and Gas Industry

API Continues to Work Against Efforts to Tackle Climate Change

  • API is fighting President Biden’s federal leasing moratorium by misrepresenting the moratorium as a ban, and by running ads that highlight how oil and gas fees contribute to school funding. But a pause on new leasing will not affect the royalties that provide the majority of funding to state and local school budgets, nor is any new leasing necessary to increase product: the industry already holds 7,700 unused leases covering 13 million acres of public land. While feigning concern for schoolchildren, API actually lobbied to lower the royalty rates that contribute to school budgets.

  • Between August 8 and September 30, 2021, API spent $423,000 on ads attacking climate provisions in the Congressional reconciliation package.