Thursday, January 09, 2020

The Oil Lobby

As the American public has become more aware of the climate crisis, oil companies have fought back. Oil companies are trying to rebrand themselves as part of the solution to the climate crisis, launching a campaign to counter proposals to rapidly cut pollution from the power plants run on the industry’s petroleum and natural gas. They say natural gas – a fossil fuel that emits heat-trapping carbon dioxide – is helping to slow climate disruption by providing an alternative to coal. It is part of a strategy in which the oil industry has spent billions of dollars into its defense, threatening to out-manouver climate action advocates. Over roughly the last three decades, five major US oil companies have spent a total of at least $3.6bn on advertisements – not counting their investments in public relations programs like sponsored beach clean-ups, or their influence through trade associations, dark money groups and campaign donations.

$2bn was spent lobbying Congress on climate legislation between 2000 and 2016.

Exxon touts itself instead as an answer to the climate crisis. The top advertisement on Exxon’s YouTube page touts research on making biofuels from algae in order to cut climate pollution, but the technique is currently prohibitively expensive, and the research represents a tiny portion of Exxon’s budget.

It depicts a dark future if a presidential candidate who wants to ban fracking for natural gas wins the 2020 election: millions of jobs lost, hundreds of billions of dollars more for household energy costs and a global recession. Presidential candidates Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren, propose to ban fracking – a drilling method that has unlocked huge supplies of natural gas and driven down the cost of the fuel.

While it’s true that US climate pollution is declining in large part because of the switch from coal to natural gas, scientists say far more drastic action is needed to slow climate change. And forecasts show natural gas threatening continued progress.

Planet-heating pollution from the U.S. oil, gas, and petrochemical industries could rise about 30% by 2025 compared with 2018 because of additional drilling and 157 new or expanded projects "fueled by the fracking boom," an environmental watchdog group warned. That estimated emissions increase is equal to "as much greenhouse gas pollution as 50 new coal-fired power plants," the U.S.-based Environmental Integrity Project (EIP) explained in a statement announcing the new analysis.

"Facilities in these sectors reported emitting 764 million tons of greenhouse gases (carbon dioxide equivalent tons) in 2018, an eight percent increase since 2016," the report says. "Expected growth in oil and gas production and large new and expanded oil, gas, and chemical plants have the potential to add up to 227 million additional tons of greenhouse gases by 2025. That could bring total emissions to nearly one billion tons, equivalent to the greenhouse gas output from more than 218 large coal-fired power plants operating around the clock at full capacity," the report continues, noting that the estimates "likely understate emissions growth from the oil, gas, and petrochemical sectors."

Courtney Bernhardt, research director at the EIP, said in the group's statement. "This analysis shows that we're heading in the wrong direction and really need to slow emissions growth from the oil, gas, and petrochemical industries."

No comments: