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Oil, gas companies accused of underplaying impacts of climate change during Congressional hearing

Some claim oil and gas companies underplayed climate change for decades.

WASHINGTON, D.C., USA — There were big accusations against big oil companies Thursday in Washington D.C.

"You can poison the planet to make money but we’re going to defend the planet to live,” said Rep. Rashida Tlaib, (D) Michigan.

Congressional members from both sides got a platform thanks to a House Oversight Committee hearing.

"The industry ran a coordinated campaign to mislead the public, hide the dangers of its own product and derail global efforts to reduce greenhouse emissions,” said Rep. Carolyn Maloney, (D) New York.

The CEOs of BP America, Chevron, ExxonMobil and Shell answered questions under oath much like those from “big tobacco” did in the 1990s.

"The folks represented before us today run organizations that are providing good-paying jobs and secure, affordable and clean energy for all Americans,” said Rep. Ralph Norman, (R) South Carolina.

Oil and gas companies are accused by some of looking the other way when it comes to climate change for decades and lobbying against efforts to clean things up.

Although ExxonMobil CEO Darren Woods tried to focus on current efforts.

"Our scientists and engineers are applying their expertise to help responsibly meet the world’s need for energy while working to find ways to accelerate the transition to a world with fewer emissions,” said Woods.

RELATED: Exxon CEO denies spreading disinformation on climate change

We asked KHOU 11 News energy expert and UH Energy Fellow Ed Hirs what he thought of the hearing.

"A kangaroo hearing," said Hirs. "Lots of theater.”

Hirs considered it unrealistic to hold current executives accountable for decisions by predecessors years ago unless Congress is willing to do the same.

“Congress has not acted and not acted for decades,” said Hirs.

He believes everyone realizes carbon emissions need further control. It’s a matter of funding and the potential impact on consumers.

"And to get to these carbon reduction goals, we're going to have to pay for it," said Hirs. And Congress doesn't want to be the bad person that tells everyone they have to pay for it."

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