BP, ConocoPhillips drop out of US Climate Action Program

BP PLC and ConocoPhillips are leaving the US Climate Action Program because they believe they can be more effective on their own in the national global climate-change debate, the companies separately announced on Feb. 16.

Nick Snow
OGJ Washington Editor

WASHINGTON, DC, Feb. 17 -- BP PLC and ConocoPhillips are leaving the US Climate Action Program because they believe they can be more effective on their own in the national global climate-change debate, the companies separately announced on Feb. 16.

Their departure leaves Royal Dutch Shell PLC as the only oil company in USCAP, which was formed to formulate a climate-change legislative blueprint for Congress to consider. Earth-moving equipment manufacturer Caterpillar Inc. of Peoria, Ill., also said it is leaving USCAP.

USCAP still includes as members other businesses, including six utility holding companies, as well as conservation groups. BP and ConocoPhillips officials emphasized that the group has been a pioneer in helping federal legislators shape policy.

“As an active member of USCAP, we owe a great deal of credit to our colleagues, both companies and nongovernment organizations alike,” ConocoPhillips Chief Executive Officer James J. Mulva said in Houston. “USCAP’s diverse membership and high-level commitment have made it a true pioneer in climate change debate, and we have highly valued our involvement.”

BP spokesman Ronnie Chappell told OGJ on Feb. 17, “We also believe that USCAP accomplished what it intended when we joined it as a founding member: to develop a high-level framework for shaping legislation. We believe its blueprint is a fine model of executives and industries coming together to help shape legislation, and we will continue to support using this blueprint.”

Soon after issuing its Blueprint for Legislative Action on Jan. 15, 2009, however, USCAP drew fire from companies which were not members, including several in the oil and gas industry, for supporting enactment of a domestic carbon cap-and-trade program to limit greenhouse gas emissions. The criticism intensified after the House passed a bill cosponsored by Reps. Henry A. Waxman (D-Calif.) and Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.) in late June which several trade associations said favored some industries over others.

“House climate legislation and Senate proposals to date have disadvantaged the transportation sector and its consumers, left domestic refineries unfairly penalized vs. international competition, and ignored the critical role that natural gas can play in reducing GHG emissions,” Mulva said on Feb. 16. “We believe greater attention and resources need to be dedicated to reversing these missed opportunities, and our actions today are part of that effort.”

Chappell said, “We think we can be a more-effective participant in the effort to pass comprehensive climate change legislation as BP instead of part of a larger organization. We expect the effort to pass climate change legislation to continue, and we expect there to be more detailed discussions of specific proposals.”

Contact Nick Snow at nicks@pennwell.com.

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