Monday, August 2, 2021

Brookings & CSIS to Receive Congressional Scrutiny for Exxon Ties

After reports surfaced that ExxonMobil's two most important allies in think tank land are the Brookings Institution and the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), US lawmakers are vowing to look into the energy giant's ties to these think tanks and others.

Rep. Ro Khanna (D-CA), Chairman of the House Oversight Subcommittee on the Environment, is planning to look into Exxon's ties to think tanks during a broader probe into fossil fuel industry misinformation efforts, according to E&E News, which notes that Exxon used a Brookings paper to help defeat the only major climate legislation that has ever passed the US House.

Exxon's financial support for Brookings "opened doors at the agenda-setting think tank," E&E says, while noting that Exxon is one of four oil and gas companies that have donated at least $100,000 to Brookings in each of the last three years.  The others are Royal Dutch Shell PLC, France’s TotalEnergies SE, and Equinor ASA of Norway.

Here is more from E&E:

That level of giving has secured Exxon a place on Brookings’ Corporate Council. The think tank’s website doesn’t explain what the council is, and [Brookings spokeswoman Andrea Risotto] didn’t respond to questions about the membership, structure and purposes of the group.

But a 2016 menu of “Corporate Council Donor Privileges” promised companies that give Brookings $100,000 or more would receive “a customized program of benefits designed in collaboration with the Senior Director of Corporate & Foundation Relations.”

Brookings deleted the document from its website after E&E News asked about it.

Other perks include “a private meeting” with the think tank’s president, “opportunities to request briefings with Brookings scholars” and invitations to a series of exclusive Brookings receptions, an archived version of the menu says.


E&E News reports that Exxon has donated $600,000 to Brookings since 2018, and nearly $2.1 million to CSIS during the same time period.

It also notes that the Center for Global Development (CGD) is among the think tanks that has received significant funding from Exxon.

Other think tanks that Exxon donates to include: American Enterprise Institute (AEI), Bipartisan Policy Center (BPC), and Council on Foreign Relations (CFR).  It also donates to dozens of colleges and universities.

In response to the recent reporting on Exxon's deep ties to think tanks, Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) tweeted: "The Swamp in action. Read it and gag."