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Big Oil isn't the only climate change bad guy. These companies knew, too, but buried it.

Researchers unearthed documents proving the utility companies knew about the devastating effects of their carbon footprint as far back as 1968.
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Utility companies were told about the effects of carbon dioxide in 1968, but chose to bury the information on climate change instead. Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Despite President Donald Trump and his band of climate change deniers, Big Oil companies like Exxon Mobil Corp. knew about global warming decades ago, but buried the information. According to a new report released Tuesday, utility companies knew, too.

In 1968, a science advisor to President Lyndon B. Johnson warned utility heads that the U.S. government dreaded an anticipated increase in carbon dioxide emissions from burning fossil fuels.

“Carbon dioxide is not toxic, but it is the chief heat-absorbing component of the atmosphere,” Donald F. Hornig said at the 1968 annual convention of the Edison Electric Institute, according to the trade group’s newsletter from that year, the Huffington Post reported. “Such a change in the carbon dioxide level might, therefore, produce major consequences on the climate ― possibly even triggering catastrophic effects such as have occurred from time to time in the past.”

The new report, published by the watchdog Energy & Policy Institute, contains dozens of internal documents showing initial funding for climate change research and later efforts to halt research.

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Reports published two years ago claimed Exxon Mobil had understood climate change in the late 1970s, but the oil behemoth buried up evidence to protect its financial interests.

A spokesman for Exxon Mobil told HuffPost that the reporting on the company’s climate record “is not credible” and is an “easily discredited talking point.”

It was the same story line with utilities. Around the same time Big Oil figured it out the impact of their carbon footprint, the Edison Electric Institute and the industry-backed Electric Power Research Institute sponsored research into “the potential effects of climate change on electric utilities.”

The Electric Power Research Institute concluded that “climate changes possible over the next 30 years may significantly affect the electric utility industry.”

However, in 1989, any governmental action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions was challenged by the now-disbanded lobby group the Global Climate Coalition.

“The evidence suggests they were very much involved in the deliberate deception [about the dangers of carbon emissions] going on at that time,” Dave Anderson, a researcher at the Energy & Policy Institute who uncovered the documents, told HuffPo. “Scientists had been warning for years that they could be a problem, and by the late 1980s, it was pretty clear there was an emerging consensus among scientists.”

Edison Electric Institute released a statement saying, “The electric power industry has reduced carbon emissions by 25 percent below 2005 levels as of the end of 2016.”

Click here for the full report on Huffington Post.