(Adds companies named in letter and efforts to seek comment from them, DOJ comment in paragraphs 3, 5 and 6)

May 22 (Reuters) - U.S. lawmakers behind a congressional probe of major oil companies on Wednesday called on the Justice Department to investigate whether the industry deceived the public about fossil fuels' impact on climate change.

Two Democrats, Senator Sheldon Whitehouse and Representative Jamie Raskin, outlined the findings of a nearly three-year investigation into Big Oil and urged the agency to take action in a letter to U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland.

The lawmakers accuse companies Exxon Mobil, Chevron , BP and Shell, oil and gas trade group American Petroleum Institute and business group the U.S. Chamber of Commerce of working together to mislead the public by making promises to reduce emissions while also seeking to protect oil and gas production.

"This evidence, combined with the entities' failure to comply fully with validly issued congressional subpoenas, suggests that further investigation by the executive branch is warranted," the letter said.

A Department of Justice spokesperson said the agency had received the letter but would not comment on it.

Exxon, Chevron, BP, Shell and the Chamber did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

The American Petroleum Institute called the move a distraction.

“This is another unfounded political charade to distract from persistent inflation and America’s need for more energy, including oil and natural gas. U.S. energy workers are focused on delivering the reliable, affordable oil and natural gas Americans demand and any suggestion to the contrary is false,” an API spokesperson said in a statement.

(Reporting by Nichola Groom; editing by Diane Craft)