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Oil Company Leaders Support Carbon Pricing Plan

22/03/2021 11:30pm

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By Timothy Puko 

WASHINGTON -- Top oil company executives, in a meeting with White House officials Monday, expressed support for putting a price on carbon emissions as a means to address greenhouse gas emissions that contribute to climate change.

White House environmental officials hosted the videoconference meeting with executives from 10 of the industry's biggest companies, including giants like Exxon Mobil Corp. and Royal Dutch Shell PLC. The meeting was the White House's first with oil industry leaders after a series with other industries.

Gina McCarthy, the White House national climate adviser, told executives the administration must focus on oil-and-gas companies -- especially their emissions of the greenhouse-gas methane -- in addressing climate change as a priority, according to people familiar with the meeting.

Among those attending were Exxon CEO Darren Woods, Chevron Corp. Chief Executive Mike Wirth, Shell U.S. President Gretchen Watkins as well as Mike Sommers, president and chief executive of the American Petroleum Institute.

Company leaders, particularly from the European-based companies, said they wanted to work with the administration and pledged support for policies that would make it more expensive to emit the gases that cause climate change, according to the people.

Some industry officials representing U.S. companies warned that the wrong policies would hurt U.S. producers and potentially increase demand for imports of fuel produced abroad under weaker environmental protections.

In a statement, the White House said Ms. McCarthy "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 meeting comes after weeks of friction over moves the administration made to halt new oil leasing on federal lands and to review Trump administration deregulation efforts aimed at helping U.S. producers.

As they seek to re-emphasize environmental initiatives and distance the administration from oil, Biden White House officials had ignored phone calls from oil executives and lobbyists before assembling the meeting late last week, several current and former lobbyists said.

A White House spokesman declined to comment.

Ms. McCarthy had met with representatives of other industries, including utilities and car makers. She sought Monday's meeting as a listening session with an industry that has been a driver both for job growth and greenhouse-gas emissions in the U.S. over the past decade.

White House officials gave no details of what they had planned. However, they said they want to get a better understanding of the industry's methane emissions, its abandoned wells and the royalties it pays the government, said the people familiar with the meeting.

In recent years plans to tax carbon emissions -- or otherwise make them more expensive -- have gained support, even among oil companies like Exxon and Shell. But they have lost momentum among Democrats, including many in the Biden administration, who question their efficacy.

The American Petroleum Institute, the U.S. industry's largest trade group, told officials in the meeting they would soon be introducing a new policy on climate change. The Wall Street Journal previously reported its leaders are also considering support for a price on carbon.

"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," Mr. Sommers said in a statement after the meeting.

Write to Timothy Puko at


(END) Dow Jones Newswires

March 22, 2021 19:15 ET (23:15 GMT)

Copyright (c) 2021 Dow Jones & Company, Inc.

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