Fossils Mount Coordinated Push Against Climate Regulation
Leading fossil fuel companies are pushing back strongly against climate protection regulations on both sides of the Atlantic, with Canada’s biggest oil producer and its second-largest pipeline company the latest to unload.
Speaking to his company’s annual general meeting, Imperial Oil CEO Rich Kruger challenged Alberta’s 100 megatonne-per-year cap on greenhouse emissions from tar sands/oil sands operations. “Our personal view is we didn’t think the cap was necessary,” he told the meeting. Kruger added that he expected the province to negotiate with his company and other tar sands/oil sands operators on the cap’s implementation.
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Kruger also dismissed renewables as a priority for the ExxonMobil-controlled affiliate.
Meanwhile, TransCanada Corporation CEO Russ Girling accused the federal government of costing the country billions of dollars by failing to approve projects like his company’s Energy East pipeline. The plan to build and renovate a 4,600-kilometre pipeline to Saint John, NB, at a cost of nearly $20 billion, is currently before the National Energy Board, which recently reopened the public comment period for the controversial project.
“The delay is already costing our economy billions of dollars,” Girling told reporters. “Those are the kinds of numbers that have already come out of the economy because we haven’t gotten these things done over the last few years.”
Girling challenged the need for a new federal requirement that regulators weigh upstream greenhouse gas emissions when considered whether to approve such a major new pipeline. “Oil and natural gas projects are already subject to vigorous regulation,” he said, adding that “the regulatory process for pipelines should focus on safety and spill response.”
Imperial and TransCanada are not the only companies pushing back aggressively against efforts by governments to achieve the relative climate security of keeping warming “well below” 2.0ºC, the goal established at last December’s Paris climate summit.
In the United States, coal miner Murray Energy Corporation, spurred by its 76-year-old founding chairman Robert Murray, brought the Obama administration’s Clean Power Plan to a standstill in front of the U.S. Supreme Court in February. Murray has called the administration’s climate policies “a political power grab of America’s power grid to change our country in a diabolical, if not evil, way.”
In Europe, analysts accused Volkswagen and Shell of trying to sabotage a push for higher penetration of high-efficiency and electric vehicles on the continent, threatening its ability to achieve its emission-reduction targets.
The companies have lobbied the EU, which is weighing new vehicle fuel efficiency targets to take effect in 2025 and 2030, to place “greater use of biofuels,” emissions labelling for cars, and emissions trading ahead of higher standards and support for electric vehicles, The Guardian reports. That path would spell “the end of meaningful new regulatory action on car emissions for more than a decade.”
In 2013, The Guardian recently disclosed, “the EU abandoned or weakened key proposals for new environmental protections after receiving a letter from a top BP executive which warned of an exodus of the oil industry from Europe if the proposals went ahead.”