(CNN) – US oil and gas industry is fighting tooth and nail to kill or reduce climatic provisions in President Joe Biden’s $ 3.5 trillion Build Back Better plan.
“We are leaving everything on the ground here in terms of opposing anti-energy provisions,” Mike Sommers, president and CEO of the powerful American Petroleum Institute, told CNN.
The API advertises in congressional districts swing around the Build Back Better plan and social media blitz with paid ads.
Since August 11, when the US Senate passed a budget resolution, the API has spent at least $ 423,000 on Facebook ads that have been viewed 21 million times, according to a report released Thursday by InfluenceMap, a group of reflection that follows the impact of business and finance. the climate crisis.
“We are using all the tools at our disposal to fight these proposals,” Sommers said.
Climate activists have lambasted the API for trying to block what could be a one-time effort to reduce the climate crisis.
“The API knows that the future will be built with clean energy and they have a serious political problem. That is why they will do everything possible to stop climate progress and continue to line the pockets of CEOs in the oil industry, ”Lori Lodes, executive director of Climate Power, a media operation founded by the Sierra Club, told CNN. and other environmental groups. declaration.
“But their lies don’t work anymore. The API is losing power in Washington and Congress will pass the Build Back Better Act and invest in a clean energy future for the next generation, ”Lodes said.
Exxon Spends To Fight Tax Hikes
Despite pressure from Big Oil, the Biden administration has indicated it remains steadfast in its fight against climate change.
“Solving the climate crisis is a top priority for President Biden, and this administration is using every tool in our toolbox to solve it. Full stop, ”a White House spokesperson told CNN.
ExxonMobil, the country’s largest oil and gas company, has spent at least $ 1.6 million since Aug. 11 on political and Facebook ads that have been viewed 31 million times, InfluenceMap said.
Exxon has spent a lot in recent days as lawmakers struggled to finalize a deal. Between September 21 and September 27 alone, InfluenceMap said, Exxon spent $ 296,954 on Facebook ads that generated 5.4 million impressions.
In a statement to CNN, Exxon stressed that its concern with Build Back Better focuses squarely on the proposed legislation to increase the corporate tax rate.
“Our lobbying efforts are tied to a tax burden that could disadvantage US businesses, and we have made this position known publicly,” Exxon said in the statement. “ExxonMobil maintains our position that increasing taxes on American businesses makes the United States less competitive.”
Exxon said it has supported the Paris climate agreement since its inception, and the company continues to “advocate for methane regulation and an economy-wide carbon price. “.
Natural gas is a key battleground
However, the API, of which Exxon, Chevron and many other energy companies are members, is challenging methane regulations in the Build Back Better plan.
The legislation would establish a methane levy on emissions from the oil and gas industry that exceed a certain threshold. Biden recently announced that the United States and the European Union had is committed to reducing methane emissions, a powerful greenhouse gas, by nearly 30% by the end of the decade.
Scientists say methane traps 25 times more heat than carbon dioxide, making it a central issue in the climate crisis. Methane is the primary component of natural gas, the primary method of supplying the U.S. electricity grid and heating homes.
“Basically, it’s a tax on US natural gas,” Sommers, CEO of API, told CNN in the interview. “It’s an example of something we’re trying to push back.”
The debate comes as Natural gas prices jumped in the United States at the highest level since 2014. The price peaks were much worse in Europe and Asia, triggering an energy crisis that led to blackouts and bailouts.
“As natural gas prices rise, particularly as winter approaches, the last thing lawmakers should do is raise prices for American consumers,” Sommers said of the royalties on the gas. methane.
The gas crisis in Europe
Sommers added that Europe’s experience with soaring natural gas prices should serve as a warning to American politicians.
“In Europe, there has been a very rapid rush towards the energy transition. I would say it was too fast, ”he said. “US lawmakers should pay close attention to what they see in Europe as a harbinger of what could happen here.”
Of course, Sommers conceded that politics is only one factor in Europe. There is another factor: Russia.
“Russia continues to be a difficult player in energy markets,” Sommers said.
Indeed, Goldman Sachs warned in a report Friday that the wide availability of Russian natural gas supplies is one of the biggest sources of uncertainty in Europe. “Russia can exacerbate or potentially solve the EU’s gas shortage,” Goldman Sachs wrote.
Green the grid. But how fast?
The API is also trying to dilute the clean electricity payment program, a key part of Build Back Better. The $ 150 billion program would aim to encourage a shift to renewable energy by rewarding utilities and electricity providers with federal subsidies if they increase their use of clean energy.
Sommers said API is working hard to have the clean electricity program removed from legislation or changed, arguing that natural gas has helped reduce emissions in the electrical industry.
“We believe that if you rush this transition it will increase costs and decrease reliability,” Sommers said.
Supporters argue that the clean energy program create millions of new jobss while facing up to the climate crisis by reducing greenhouse gas emissions from the electricity sector.
President Joe Biden’s goal is to make The U.S. electricity grid will run on 100% clean energy by 2035, an ambitious goal that would require moving away not only from coal but also from natural gas.
API said it will continue to push for government policies to reduce emissions, highlighting a climate action framework released earlier this year that calls for investing in breakthrough technology, regulating methane and to “price carbon according to the market”.
“Republicans and Democrats agree that climate change must be addressed,” Sommers said. “Our industry is doing the same and taking action by innovating and supporting policies such as carbon pricing and direct methane regulation.”
Yet the API’s total effort to dilute parts of Build Back Better highlights the issues behind the scenes in the struggle to shape legislation to address the climate crisis.
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