Energy & Environment

Major oil lobbying group to endorse emissions pricing: report

The American Petroleum Institute, one of the nation's most influential energy lobbying groups, is poised to come out in favor of setting prices for carbon emissions, according to a draft statement obtained by the Wall Street Journal.

In the draft, the organization calls emissions pricing a move that would "lead to the most economic paths to achieve the ambitions of the Paris Agreement," the newspaper reported.

"API supports economy-wide carbon pricing as the primary government climate policy instrument to reduce CO2 emissions while helping keep energy affordable, instead of mandates or prescriptive regulatory action," the draft statement says, according to the newspaper.

"For the better part of a year, API has convened top industry officials throughout the supply chain to incubate a host of policy solutions and industry actions to shape a lower carbon future," senior vice president of communications Megan Bloomgren said in a statement.

"The millions of scientists, engineers, geologists, and problem solvers in our industry are evolving, innovating, scaling technology and solving complex challenges every day to meet the world's energy demands and drive down U.S. emissions, and our efforts are focused on supporting a new U.S. contribution to the global Paris agreement," Bloomgren added.

An API official told The Hill the idea of carbon pricing as a solution remains under discussion among membership, and cited a report it published earlier this year that listed carbon pricing as one of several possible market-based solutions.

The draft does not go as far as endorsing a specific strategy for pricing, such as a carbon tax, but represents a major domino falling as industry groups endorse further action against climate change. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce similarly signaled it was open to carbon-pricing plans in January.

During then-President Obama's first term, API was one of the most vocal opponents of proposals for a so-called cap and trade system for emissions and fierce opposition persists to carbon pricing among some of the group's membership, the Journal reported. However, the API's larger members, particularly those headquartered in Europe, have increasingly lobbied for a shift in emphasis toward renewable energy.

The report comes the month after French oil firm Total announced its exit from the API, saying the group's goals and those of the Paris agreement were fundamentally at odds.

"[A]s part of our Climate Ambition ... we are committed to ensuring, in a transparent manner, that the industry associations of which we are a member adopt positions and messages that are aligned with those of the (company) in the fight against climate change," CEO Patrick Pouyanné said in a statement in January.

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