Energy & Environment

ExxonMobil opposes ALEC’s attempt to fight EPA climate policy

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Exxon Mobil Corp. is coming out against an American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) proposal that would push the Trump administration to rescind a federal finding that greenhouse gases are harmful.

ExxonMobil is the country’s largest oil and natural gas company and a member of the ALEC task force planning to vote on the resolution Wednesday.

ALEC’s draft resolution goes after the Obama administration’s 2009 endangerment finding at the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), which requires the EPA to take actions under the Clean Air Act to restrict greenhouse gas emissions. 

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That finding served as a lynchpin for climate regulations under former President Barack Obama.

ALEC’s resolution calls the Obama administration finding “flawed,” specifically taking issue with the science that it cited, and calls upon the EPA to “reopen and review” it.

“As has been previously communicated to ALEC, we are concerned by the language of the resolution, especially relating to climate science, and do not support the resolution,” Kenneth Freeman, ExxonMobil’s manager of United States government relations, wrote in the Monday letter to ALEC’s energy, environment and agriculture task force.

“ExxonMobil will continue to oppose the resolution and will vote against it should it come before the taskforce or the board.”

ExxonMobil’s public dissent is part of a broader rift that the climate resolution is exposing within ALEC, a group funded by organizations like Koch Industries Inc. and coal miner Peabody Energy Corp., which pushes conservative policies in the state and federal governments.

Conservatives in ALEC have been pushing for years to rescind the endangerment finding, arguing that it relies on science that is shaky at best. Rescission would also make it easier to repeal climate policies like Obama’s Clean Power Plan.

They see President Trump’s rise to the presidency as an opportune moment to repeal the finding, making it harder for future administrations to impose new policies.

Corporate members like ExxonMobil, meanwhile, want to avoid arguing over the science of climate change.

ALEC has lost some major corporate members due to its opposition to climate policies, like Google, Royal Dutch Shell and Facebook.

On Tuesday, writing in a Washington Post op-ed, Democratic Sens. Sheldon Whitehouse (R.I.) and Elizabeth Warren (Mass.) called out UPS and Pfizer Corp. as “complicit” in ALEC fighting climate policies. 

EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt has not indicated he plans to take up an effort to repeal the endangerment finding. But he is planning to organize a debate over the scientific consensus that human activities through greenhouse gas emissions are the primary cause of climate change.

Tags American Legislative Exchange Council Barack Obama Climate change Elizabeth Warren ExxonMobil Scott Pruitt Sheldon Whitehouse

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