Rachel Koning Beals
“But the industry didn’t pursue that path. Instead, colleagues and I recently found that in the late 1980s, Exxon and other oil companies coordinated a global effort to dispute climate science, block fossil fuel controls and keep their products flowing,” he said.
‘Views have developed over time…’
Republican members largely embraced opening comments from the energy executives that the companies themselves are doing plenty to fold in renewable energy with traditional fossil fuels, exploring hydrogen and nuclear sources, and spending on the technology that eventually will make carbon capture scalable. Critics of carbon capture and storage , say it does little to dissuade the pumping from new fossil fuel sources. The executives also largely support carbon markets, or the swapping of emissions permits, and electric-vehicle infrastructure, they stressed at the hearing.
At least two Republican members noted a group of Democratic lawmakers and President Biden have urged OPEC to keep the spigot open to hold down costs, a position these committee members said was in marked contrast to the committee leadership insisting that U.S. sources of oil and gas be shut off to meet U.S. emissions targets. Biden said last week that he predicts high gasoline /zigman2/quotes/210286597/delayed RB00 +0.21% prices into at least 2022.
“What does the gentleman want, $8 gasoline, $10 gasoline?” Rep. Jim Jordan, Republican of Ohio, said of a Democrat’s comment.
Gasoline futures are up 66% in the year to date. West Texas Intermediate crude futures are up some 70% in the year to date, while natural gas futures are up 132% over the same span.
Khanna, the Democrat, meanwhile, pointed out the divide in the companies’ pro-EV stance while supporting 600-member trade group the American Petroleum Institute, which has worked to limit EV expansion and has advertised against a methane-leak fee on industry on Facebook and elsewhere.
“Ms. Watkins, Mr. [Mike] Summers of API is on the panel with us. Will you take the opportunity today to tell him that his opposition to electric vehicles is wrong,” Khanna asked Gretchen Watkins, president of Shell, who earlier confirmed the company backed EV growth.
“We are a member of API for a number of reasons… We have a number of conversations of course ongoing,” Watkins said.
Michael Worth, chair and CEO of Chevron, refuted the idea that Chevron is misleading its shareholders and the public on climate change.
“While our view on climate change have developed over time, any suggestion that Chevron has engaged in an effort to spread disinformation and mislead the public on these complex issues is wrong,” he said.
Exxon’s Woods said his firm fully accepts that the combustion of fossil fuels is behind climate change, but that the energy market does not currently have adequate alternative sources to keep up with demand. He defended most past actions of his company as being in line with views on climate change at the time.
Exxon, he said, is pushing for carbon capture as one of the “biggest opportunities for innovation to address emissions.”
Suzanne Clark, president of U.S. Chamber of Commerce, said lawmakers should not dwell on climate-change history but make way for market-based policies, including carbon markets, that are “practical, predictable and durable” enough to survive election changes.
David Lawler, head of BP America, told lawmakers that BP started a transition to include more renewables as far back as 2005.
“Our progress hasn’t always been a straight line… but we view the path we’re on as a business imperative,” he said.