Everybody says things in private they wouldn’t want publicly broadcast. But when you’re in a very public role, you need to watch what you say carefully, as Exxon Mobil lobbyist Keith McCoy was reminded this week when his indiscreet comments went viral.

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Greenpeace released video clips of McCoy talking to undercover activists posing as job recruiters. McCoy discussed his lobbying strategies, such as working with “shadow groups” and trying to influence senators to oppose climate elements of President Biden’s infrastructure overhaul. He boasted that he talked to West Virginia Senator Joe Manchin’s office every week, attempting to block policies that would hurt Exxon.

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The oil giant, of course, is trying to distance itself from McCoy’s embarrassing comments. Darren Woods, chairman and CEO of Exxon Mobil, released a statement saying that McCoy’s words do not represent Exxon’s views. “We condemn the statements and are deeply apologetic for them, including comments regarding interactions with elected officials,” he said. The company has reiterated that it really, truly supports the Paris climate agreement.

McCoy, too, is trying to distance himself from, well, himself. He wrote on LinkedIn, “I am deeply embarrassed by my comments and that I allowed myself to fall for Greenpeace’s deception. My statements clearly do not represent ExxonMobil’s positions on important public policy issues.”

The unfortunate comments come at a perfect time to be used against Exxon in upcoming congressional hearings about oil companies and climate change. “We demand Congress immediately investigate Exxon and fossil fuel companies’ climate crimes, and make polluters pay for their destruction,” said Lindsay Meiman of the climate activist group 350.org, as reported by NPR.

Representative Ro Khanna chairs the House Oversight and Reform Subcommittee on the Environment. He said that he will hold a hearing this coming fall regarding “climate disinformation & the coordinated attack on scientific truth among polluters and their lobbyists.” Khanna plans to call Exxon, Chevron and other fossil fuel company CEOs to testify.


Image via Mike Mozart