US climate adviser meets energy industry to align climate goals

Oil and gas industry representatives and White House officials discussed emissions and plans to decarbonise the economy.

Oil and gas representatives say they want to tackle climate change [File: Jason Alden/Bloomberg]

Representatives from the oil and gas industry and the United States’s National Climate Advisor Gina McCarthy struck a cooperative tone following a meeting in which the two sides discussed how companies can align with the Biden administration’s ambitious climate goals.

Industry and White House officials would not divulge details of the discussions after the meeting. Four sources familiar with the meeting on Zoom told the Reuters news agency it focused on emissions of methane, a potent greenhouse gas, from oil and gas production and on the industry’s role in the administration’s plans to decarbonise the US economy.

American Petroleum Institute (API) President Mike Sommers said the trade group emphasised that oil and gas will continue to play a significant role in global energy for decades, but added that the organisation is interested in tackling climate change. “We are committed to working with the White House to develop effective government policies that help meet the ambitions of the Paris Agreement and support a cleaner future,” Sommers said in a statement.

President Joe Biden’s administration is due to propose new regulation on methane from oil and gas operations by September, McCarthy told Reuters in a previous interview.

It will also unveil a new economy-wide emissions reduction target for 2030 to comply with the Paris climate agreement by April 22, when Biden convenes world leaders on climate change.

Oil well
McCarthy said the Biden administration is due to propose new regulation on methane from oil and gas operations by September [File: LM Otero/AP Photo]

In a readout of the meeting provided by the White House, McCarthy sought to establish a working relationship with industry even while attempting to crack down on emissions and a host of issues.

“She made clear that the Administration is not fighting the oil and gas sector, but fighting to create union jobs, deploy emission reduction technologies, strengthen American manufacturing, and fuel the American economy,” the readout said.

Trade groups that sent representatives included the API, American Gas Association and the American Exploration & Production Council, a group representing independent producers.

API has started to shift some of its rhetoric on the issue as the climate-focused Biden administration came to power.

In January, the group said for the first time it would support mandatory methane regulations, a change from its previous support of voluntary actions. This month it came out in support of carbon pricing.

Industry groups have criticised Biden’s early executive orders cancelling a permit for the Keystone XL pipeline and pausing new leases for oil and gas drilling on federal land.

Source: Reuters